Sunday Notebook: Spieth Steals Low-Amateur Honors
By Hunki Yun, USGA
San Francisco – At the beginning of the week, Jordan Spieth wasn’t even at The Olympic Club. An alternate into the field at the time, the current U.S. Junior Amateur champion and rising sophomore at the University of Texas was at home in Dallas. When Brandt Snedeker withdrew Monday afternoon, it provided a spot for Spieth, who had helped the Longhorns win the NCAA Division I Championship two weeks ago at Riviera Country Club, in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
“I didn’t expect to get in,” said the 18-year-old Spieth, who also won the U. S. Junior in 2009. “I was running on some adrenaline from the national championship and then got a call late Monday night and kind of rushed out here.”
Spieth shot 74–74 in the first two rounds to make the cut on the number, then was one of only four players to break par over the weekend to finish tied for 21st at 7-over 287, slipping past 17-year-old Beau Hossler as the low amateur.
Although they were vying against each other at Olympic, Spieth and Hossler will be on the same side in the fall of 2013, when Hossler matriculates at Texas. That’s assuming Spieth is still playing for the Longhorns. He said on Tuesday that he plans to go through PGA Tour Qualifying School this fall as an amateur – he’s exempt into the second stage by virtue of making the cut at the U.S. Open – and will make a decision should he reach the finals.
“He’s a good friend of mine in junior golf the last couple of years,” Spieth said in reference to Hossler, “and I would like to say that I helped convince him to come to Texas, along with obviously our coaches. It’s just been an all-around great effort by him, and it’s cool to see him sporting the Longhorn gear out there.”
Hossler Falls Short Of Goal
In the end, the breakout star of the 2012 U.S. Open fell two strokes short of his goal, which was to be the low amateur. Beau Hossler, the 17-year-old rising high school senior, shot a 6-over 76 in the final round at The Olympic Club to finish at 9-over 289, two strokes behind Spieth.
Despite the disappointing final round, the Mission Viejo, Calif., resident leaves Olympic with plenty of memories of his second U.S. Open.
“There’s so many positives for the week,” said Hossler, who missed the cut last year at Congressional, but was the U.S. Junior Amateur stroke-play medalist later that summer. “Out of 72 holes, I probably played well on 60 of them. But just like from last year, it’s only a learning experience and I still have some time before I come out and start doing this for a living.”
Hossler’s play and maturity this week have made it easy to forget that he won’t graduate from Santa Margarita High until January. He plans to enroll at the University of Texas for the spring semester, but won’t play on the golf team until the fall of 2013.
“He handled himself pretty well,” said final-round playing partner Jason Dufner, himself a runner-up in a USGA championship (1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links). “It was pretty impressive at that age to be in this environment and play that well. Any time you’re in the top 30 of a U.S. Open at 17 years old, you have a lot going for you.”
When Hossler and his classmates talk about what they did during the summer, he will have some story to tell.
“The standing ovation on the last hole and on Hole 8,” said Hossler. “You can’t really tell how many people and how loud it is. And to hear them chanting my name, that’s pretty awesome.”
Toms Sees Present And The Future
David Toms played with two young pros this weekend at the U.S. Open. He came away impressed. He also did OK himself.
Rebounding from a disappointing third-round 76, Toms fired a 2-under 68 Sunday and finished tied for fourth, his best effort in 16 Open appearances. It also marked his second top-5 finish in his last three majors.
Toms, who has struggled with a bad back for years, ended up at 3-over 283 as part of a large group that finished two strokes behind champion Webb Simpson. He took a lot of positives out of his strong play, despite lingering health issues. He especially enjoyed the bounce-back performance on a misty Sunday afternoon.
"Not the way I played the first two days," Toms said, "but the way I came back today after what happened yesterday, [I] could have thrown in the towel and shot another five or six over today, and I was determined to play as well as I could. I got into the round and was playing real solid and to shoot under par was a bonus."
Toms played his weekend rounds with fellow LSU graduate John Peterson, 23, on Saturday, and with eventual runner-up Michael Thompson on Sunday. Thompson graduated from Alabama, LSU’s Southeastern Conference rival.
"They both have a lot of game, and they were fun to play with," said Toms, the 2001 PGA champion. "It was an enjoyable time, but I would like to have that third round back."
On Father’s Day, there were many dads walking around The Olympic Club with their children as they enjoyed the fourth round of the 2012 U.S. Open. But no father enjoyed himself more than Mark Bradley, who carried son Keegan’s bag on the 18th hole as the pair walked up to the amphitheater green amid cheers.
“It was the highlight of my life,” said Mark, the head professional at Jackson Hole (Wyo.) Golf & Tennis Club. “It was really a wonderful experience, to be walking the fairway with my son.”
The younger Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, had a tough weekend, shooting 75-77. Still, he savored his first U.S. Open appearance.
“It is just a lot of fun, to be honest with you,” said Keegan. “I wish every tournament was like this. It’s an enjoyable week, from the first day you get here until Sunday.”
Their Sunday stroll will be the Bradleys’ new U.S. Open memory, replacing the disappointment of Keegan’s failed attempts to qualify for the national championship.
“The earliest memories of U.S. Opens with my son is him driving back from a qualifier. I’d wait for the call and he’d say, ‘Dad, I missed.’ Sometimes by a lot and sometimes by [not] a lot,” said Mark, whose sister, Pat, won the 1981 U.S. Women’s Open. “So it’s been a long haul, but he finally made it. I’m just so proud of him.”
A Week To Remember
Michael Allen didn’t have his father around to share his week at The Olympic Club, where as a longtime member he has played an estimated 2,000 rounds on the Lake Course. But the 53-year-old Champions Tour player relished every moment on the venue where he learned the game.
“The whole week has been a great time for me,” said Allen, who qualified on June 4 at TPC Harding Park and Lake Merced Golf Club, both only a few miles from The Olympic Club. “A lot of love shown towards me with the fans and the media … [and] I appreciate all the support.”
Allen, the oldest player to make the cut this week, carded a 3-over 73 on Sunday for a 14-over total of 294.
“I came here to compete,” said Allen. “I’m a good competitor. I feel I can play well here at the U.S. Open. The course kind of got the best of me. … It’s a tough track, but it’s been a lot of fun to play.”
Wrong Tree For Lee
When Lee Westwood came to the fifth hole, he was just two over for the championship and in serious contention to win his first major title. But his chances disappeared, along with his tee shot, which got stuck in a tree to the right of the fairway.
Westwood, who had to re-tee and made a double-bogey 6 on the hole, didn’t get the same break that another man named Lee – Lee Janzen – received during the 1998 U.S. Open, when his tee shot caught in a tree on the same hole.
After a fruitless search, Janzen was headed back to the tee when a gust of wind dislodged his ball. Janzen took advantage of this fortunate turn by chipping in for par and used that sustained momentum to card a final-round 68 that edged Payne Stewart by a stroke for his second U.S. Open victory.
Westwood, who shot 73 and tied for 10th at 5-over 285, did not benefit from the same kind of luck, and his major-championship drought continued.
Hunki Yun is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Senior staff writer David Shefter (email@example.com) and freelance writer Dave Shedloski also contributed to this notebook.