What a day, what an experience, and what a memory this day will always be for me despite not advancing to the 2013 US OPEN. I’m not big on excuses, or how close someone came to qualifying, the numbers you post do most of the speaking, and nobody really cares how many three putts you had.
I did get off to a solid start off a VERY tough 10th hole at Big Canyon CC, uphill dogleg left par 4 playing about 30 yards uphill in a cool 7:11 am breeze. I noticed my playing partner Lyon Lazare on the driving range, flashy dresser, tall, strong good looking kid (22 years old) and my other playing partner, old man at 25, Jesse Schutte. Both these guys got off to rough starts barely making pars on the first hole (#10) followed by ugly bogeys from the middle of the fairway on #11. I thought to myself, typical sectional mini tour players with no chance of making the open. Much to my surprise and appreciation, Jesse after bogeys on three of his first 5 holes (he did have a birdie in there) rattled off 5 consecutive birdies as calm as I’ve ever seen. The birdie barrage didn’t stop there either, he birdied the sixth hole to go -4 on the round, but an ugly wayward three metal on #9 (our 18th hole) ended his morning round with a bogey for a very solid 69 on a tough course.
My path was much different than Jesse, I was hitting fairways and greens, and missing ALL of my makable birdie putts. My birdies were a two putt on hole 18 from 10 feet for birdie and a 2 footer on hole 6 for my second birdie at Big Canyon. My misfortune came on my 17th hole a straight forward par four, where I didn’t think through my second shot, and made a mess of the hole resulting in an ugly double bogey 6. A short missed birdie at the 9th (my 18th hole) left a bad taste in my mouth. My body was tired an sore after probably to much preparation for the day, but even after a 74 at Big Canyon I was not out of it.
As the results show Newport Beach CC played as much as 5-6 shots easier, the guys that qualified played well at both courses, but Newport CC in the calm morning was the place to play first as Big Canyon played long in the morning. My playing partner Jesse Schutte started off hot and birdied the fist two holes to get to -5 followed by a series of bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie holes. The problem was these were not tough holes he was making bogeys on, and as we came down the stretch he didn’t seem to be nervous, but clearly something was going on. The Golf Channel camera showed up on the 16th hole, which didn’t seem to faze him, but an ugly bogey on the par three 17th hole put a question mark on his qualifying for this open. I was surprised he made some pretty bad mistakes and misses to places he should have avoided, but all day long he made long par saving putt and putt. And when he had a birdie chance, he buried them. He ended up making 13 birdies over 36 holes, combined with 8 bogeys (too many). Unfortunately Jesse ended up in a playoff with Cal Standout and 2013 NCAA individual champ Max Homa, and also fellow college star Cory McElyea. I know and have played with both of these guys before, and they both have serious game. Cory and I were in the 6 for 4 playoff at Half Moon Bay, and now here was Cory for a chance at the US OPEN. So off to the 9th hole at Bog Canyon they went, all three players I have had playing experience with, and would give the edge to Max Homa off his recent win in the NCAA championship. However after all three players hit great approach shots to this water guarded green, Max hit a very poor putt that raced 8 feet past the hole. Cory and Jesse had short make able putts that neither probably felt they needed to make. Jesse hadn’t missed more than one putt inside 10 feet all day, and had a very easy downhill putt to advance to the US OPEN. But with nerves comes a putting stroke that usually de-accelrates at impact, which was the case with Jesse. He left his ticket to the Open a roll short of going to the ultimate show in golf. Max meanwhile was looking at a 8 foot par putt, very similar to the par putt he had on his 36th hole from 5 feet. Max drilled the 8 footer and gave an emphatic fist pumped. So to make a long playoff shorter, all three players hit good layup shots to the easy #1 hole at Big Canyon, followed by some pretty nervous and terrible second shots with wedge to #1. Schutte layed the sod over and hit a wedge in the Lake, and lost his chance to play in the US OPEN, an event he may never qualify for in his lifetime.
This kid Schutte had game and swagger, but in the end, he failed. It was brutal to watch, as I have never qualified for an Open other than a US SENIOR OPEN. I’d probably trade my 5 senior majors for one US OPEN, just like I would trade my 5 trips to the quarter finals of the US Mid Amateur for one victory and a spot in the Masters.
To me it looked like a college tournament with college names on the bags, a handful of High School players and a bunch of mini tour players. No big time PGA tour players, just Beau Hossler that shot 72-83, past stars Joel Kribel (+7) Jeff Brehaut (even) Chris Riley (+5) two US OPEN CHAMPS SONS Andy Miller (+9) Steven Irwin +10. So I beat 70 guys in this qualifier, but wasn’t close to making this exciting coming down the stretch. Like I have said before, I deep down didn’t think I could do it….sad but true. My putting was not even close, if you cannot PUTT in this game forget about it.
My next Blog will be about playing golf, and what is important to be a player in this game. I have now witnessed two guys hit the ball very crooked that can and probably will make money playing golf – Jesse Schutte and 2011 Cal State Am Champ Bhavik Patel. These guys can flat out putt, forget the range, all the rest, chip and putt and you have a chance….end of subject. I witnessed these guys hit it all over the place and make birdie after birdie, and par save after par save. Remember the last shot on each hole is the most important!!
look at the link below and look at the birdies these guys made that qualified, and the 13 birdies that Jesse made.