Follow Pat Wilson at the U.S. Open
Pat Wilson of Andover, N.J., the 2013 Met Amateur champion, earned a trip to Chambers Bay and his first U.S. Open after advancing through Sectional Qualifying at Old Oaks and Century in Purchase, N.Y., on June 8. Wilson is sharing some of his U.S. Open experiences with the MGA:
Friday, June 19: Round Two
Round 2 of the U.S. Open was one of the most grueling days of my life. Having the last tee time of the day at 3:12 made for a long morning. I arrived to the course at about 12:30 to watch some coverage, eat and relax before the round. It was an interesting perspective watching the coverage so I could see how approach shots were reacting on the greens. It's not something I've ever experienced before.
After I ate lunch at around 2, I went to the range to warm up. I had a great session on the range which was good because I figured I needed a career round to make the cut. After about 35 minutes on the range, I went to the putting green. Again, I was ready and felt confident for a good round!
The first tee was a thrill once again! Thankfully I was able to feel my body today before I hit my tee ball. I made a great drive on the first hole. After a terrible bogey on the first with a missed green with a wedge, I nearly made an eagle on the 400 yard 2nd to get the round back to even. I made the turn in +1, 37 with 2 three putt bogeys. I felt if I got through the tough stretch on the back I could potentially shoot under par.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. I struggled on the back shooting +5. Although there were moments of brilliance, I did not make putts at critical points in the round. I did beat Tiger Woods this week so that will go on my resume.
Once I doubled 13 for the second day in a row, I told Cory I just wanted to enjoy my final holes on Puget Sound in my first U.S. Open. It was an unbelievable opportunity for me to play this week! I think the USGA will get a lot of criticism for this venue. I truthfully like the golf course layout but the conditions this week were tough. Clearly the course was not designed with the intent of playing at U.S. Open speeds and firmness, because towards the end of my round it was almost laughable. Par 3's and 4's on the back nine were not holding approach shots regardless of the height of the shot.
Overall, I wish I could have played the weekend. This past week and a half has been such an unbelievable experience. All the support from family and friends have left me with a lifetime of memories. I cannot wait to get back to another U.S. Open! Thanks for reading.
Thursday, June 18: First Round
Today is a day I will never forget. The first round of my first Major Championship was not how I had wished it would be but it was one of the craziest experiences of my life. Teeing it up on the first tee of the U.S. Open was by far the most nervous I've ever been in my life. It's tough to emulate what it actually is like until you are physically there about to pull the trigger with hundreds of spectators and cameras on you. Granted I was so nervous, it was not a bad thing, I was just thrilled and honored to be there.
Surprisingly, I slept very well Wednesday night and had calm but confident attitude about the day. I woke up at around 6:45, showered and was off to the course. I arrived around 7:30, grabbed breakfast and began my warmup. I had probably one of the best warmup sessions I've had since I've been out here so I was pumped to get out on the course. I was paired with the 15-year-old amateur, Cole Hammer who has become nearly a household name this week, and Kevin Lucas. There was a huge following because everyone wanted to see Hammer play.
Unfortunately, my score was not nearly reflective of how I played. I struck the ball well. I hit 85% of my fairways and 11 greens (and a few of those missed greens were in collection areas putting or just off the surface) so it seemed like a better stat. The issue for me was the putter. Guys are beginning to come out about the way they feel about the greens here at Chambers Bay because they are inconsistent and super fast and bumpy so it is difficult to make putts. Granted everyone has to putt the same surfaces,but it is disappointing to have had 39 putts and 6 three putts. My score added up very quickly because of that.
Playing with Cole and Kevin was enjoyable. We are all first time US Open contestants so we all could relate the nerves at the beginning. Cole is far ahead of his years! He will be a name to look out for in years to come. I was amazed at how composed he remained all day for only being 15! Cole shot 77 and Kevin played better than he scored but fired 74. Hope tomorrow we can all take it low!
After the round, I was drained. It felt like I played 36 in the time it took me to play that one round. I grabbed some lunch, practiced putting and got a massage and left for the day.
There is so much pressure on every shot; precision is a must! Unfortunately, my loose shots were compounded and my lag putting was not up to par, leaving me with 4-6 footers that managed to lip out what seemed like every time. But like everyone says, tomorrow is a new day.
I have been told that I was on the television coverage on Fox a few times so that is pretty awesome! I also received a ton of messages about me beating Tiger today... So I have that going for me, which is nice.
It was awesome to have my family and friends cheering me on out there today! It has been an unbelievable experience thus far. Hopefully tomorrow I can post a solid round and hold my head high.
Wednesday, June 17: Tiger Mania
Last day of prep work in the books today. Cannot believe I'm teeing it up in a Major Championship tomorrow! A lifelong dream is being fulfilled tomorrow morning at 9:12 am (West Coast Time). The weather was beautiful today as it's been for the past 6 days. Tomorrow is supposed to be great as well but calling for some wind which could really firm up the golf course.
I arrived to the course at about 10am. Upon arrival I went straight to the range to dial some yardages in with all my irons. Over the past day and a half I had been struggling to hit the ball close so I was able to use Trackman with my coach Jason Birnbaum to figure out my exact yardages will be this week. It was productive because surprisingly I am hitting the ball 5ish yards shorter than normal. Not exactly sure what the cause of this was but it's valuable to know exact yardages, especially in a US Open setup. The precision required to get the ball close or getting a bad break could depend on a single yard.
After some range work, I grabbed some lunch and went to the short game area to hit some bunker shots, chips, pitches and long putts from off the green. Creativity is the name it the game at Chambers Bay so it all depends on the lie and slope before the proper play is made. I visited the putting green after the short game was worked on.
I had a practice round at 1:22 off the 10th tee. I played with Tjaart van der Walt and Tom Hoge. Both guys were nice and we had a good time.
After my round I went to the range to hit a few more balls. I was the only one on the range so it was nice for awhile; Then Tiger showed up. Of course he decided to hit balls right next to me when the entire range was empty but it was to be expected. Of course when Tiger arrives, so does the wave of people, cameras and entourage. It was cool to have so many people around me. He said nothing to me. He barely acknowledges anyone's existence.
After the range session with Tiger, I went back to the hotel. In the meantime, I received SO MANY texts about making the Golf Channel coverage. It was a pretty cool experience to hit balls right next to Tiger and a huge crowd of spectators. Tomorrow is the big day!!! I cannot wait to hit the first tee shot but I guess it'll have to wait until tomorrow!
Tuesday, June 16: T-2 Days
T-minus 2 days until the first round. Today was another great day at Chambers Bay. I arrived at 7:15 for my 8:39 tee time. My original plan today was to play 18 but only ended up playing 9. Upon arrival, I grabbed a bite to eat at Player Hospitality and proceeded to the range to warm up. I hit balls for about 30 minutes and rolled a few putts before getting shuttled to the 10th tee. I was paired with Henrik Stenson, John Senden and Marc Warren. All were GREAT guys! It's easy to see why the European's are so successful in the Ryder Cup. They are outgoing, witty and generally nice people. Stenson was hilarious.
The course is firmer than ever. I expect the same trend to continue as the week progresses. It's going to be interesting how the USGA reacts to the wildly firm and fast conditions.
After play was over, I was able to drop my clubs off to the Titleist Tour Van to get my clubs regripped. I could get used to the treatment I'm getting this week between equipment and recovery access at my fingertips. After lunch, I rolled a few putts, hit a few balls, signed some autographs and headed home for the day.
Monday, June 15: U.S. Open Week Begins
U.S. Open week has officially begun. Felt different than the past few days but it was much more exciting. Before heading to the course, I picked up my coach, Jason Birnbaum from the airport. On the ride over, I spoke with Mike Diffley, a friend and a mentor to me who has helped me to prepare for the week by discussing a mental approach for the coming days. We arrived to the course at around 11. There were a lot of people on the driving range, where I began my practice. Jason and I were able to get some valuable work in on Trackman, making practice a bit more efficient. During my practice, I was able to speak to Bob Vokey about wedges and different bounce options for the course conditions this week. He took my specs and within 2 hours, he had make me 3 new wedges for the week! It was awesome getting insight from him and I value his recommendations.
I played 9 holes today at 2:28 with Brandt Snedeker, Brian Harmon and an amateur, Davis Reily. All were nice guys. The course is firming up by the day. It's going to be interesting to see how it evolves throughout the week. The overall consensus about the course is positive from the players I have spoken to.
Throughout the day I was asked to sign autographs from various spectators. That is something I have never had to do before but it was enjoyable for me. Hopefully by the end of the week they know who I am!
Sunday, June 14: 2nd Unofficial Practice Round
Today was another awesome day at Chambers Bay. After the round yesterday I got a text from Keegan Bradley asking if I wanted to play a match against Jason Dufner and Dustin Johnson at 10. Obviously, I was stoked to have received that text. Cory and I arrived to the course at about 9:15, went to the range for about 30 minutes then rolled a few putts then we were off again. So the Johnnies took on Dufner and Johnson. Unfortunately, we lost 3 & 2.
I found it very exciting to play with these three world class players. Of course I was aware of Dustin Johnson's power but I witnessed some shots I may never see again in my life. (Hopefully we can play together this weekend) Some of the lines he was taking on the course were so aggressive but he was able to cut off 30-80 yards off some holes! I'm amazed how straight he hits the driver for how long he hits it. Jason Dufner, on the other hand played a much more normal game when compared to Dustin. He hits it so straight and solid, I was impressed. Both were really nice guys. Dufner has an extremely dry sense of humor. He doesn't say much but when he did it was mainly to make fun of Keegan in some way!
I have been really lucky to get exposure playing with some of the top PGA TOUR players. That being said, I felt very comfortable playing with them and I believe my game can keep up with them.
The golf course is getting super firm! Every approach shot is playing a front edge yardage, which is not something I'm used to. But it's golf and part of the work is adjusting to different course conditions. The greens were a bit inconsistent today with regards to speed. There is a lot of poa annua in the greens and if they are not rolled, the surfaces become very bumpy. With the speed they are rolling, it could be treacherous come the first round on Thursday. That being said, I'm sure the surfaces will be rolling like a pool table by the first round.
After the round, I registered, got my credentials, passes, tickets etc. grabbed a bite to eat and visited the Wellness Center to get a massage and chiropractic work done. After that, I rolled a few putts and left for the day.
Saturday, June 13: Unofficial Practice Round
Today was my second day at Chambers Bay. What a treacherous place! Aside from the difficulty of the golf course, it is without a doubt the longest walk I can remember. Tipped out, the course could potentially play 7,900 yards and will play to a par 70! With that yardage, Chambers Bay is by far the longest course I've ever played! The course has fairly generous fairways considering it's a U.S. Open setup. That being said, it is extremely demanding off the tee. There are a few holes that are between 280-310 to carry bunkers. If you miss the fairway, it's in knee high fescue and you're possibly wedging it back in play. Then there are the greens... the green complexes are unbelievable at Chambers Bay. It is all about hitting the ball to the correct quadrant of the surface in order to 2 putt. It's extremely difficult to tell where the green begins and fairway ends because everything is shaved so short so there is virtually no reason to chip. The greens and runoffs around them are extremely firm- I have not made pitch mark on a single green yet There are slopes and contours around the greens that can be used to get the ball close but with how fast it's playing, it makes it that much more difficult. It's a much different type of golf but I guess that's the beauty of a US Open. Par is an unbelievable score; my prediction is that over par wins.
Today I arrived to the course in my brand new courtesy car, a Lexus GX 460 (not bad) at around 8 am. Upon arrival to the driving range, the attendant asked me which ball I play. It's nice practicing with the same Pro V1x's I play while I'm out on the course. I had a game set up with Keegan Bradley at 9 so after a warmup and a few putts were rolled, we were off. Myself, my younger brother ,Cory who's caddying for me, Keegan and his caddie, Pepsi, started on the back. We played behind Rory McIlroy, which was interesting because I could see where he was hitting some of his tee shots. Keegan and I had a great time. It was nice to talk to him about what to expect this week and how to deal with things out there. I also picked up on how he approaches practice rounds and mainly took note of the things he does around the greens. I only intended to play 9 today but because the pace of play was so good, we just continued. Once we got to number 9, our 18th, Rory was waiting for Jason Day to finish up. He asked if we wanted to join him for the hole. Pretty awesome to play a hole with him. It is a moment I will never forget. He was super nice, down to earth and told me to embrace the opportunity and enjoy myself after about 5 minutes or chatting.
After the round, I grabbed a bite to eat in the Player Hospitality tent with Cory, Keegan and Pepsi. I then went to the Wellness Center to get some chiropractic work done along with a massage. The USGA does a nice job setting up the players with all the necessary rehab to perform at the highest level. After the relaxing Wellness Center visit, I rolled a few putts and left.