Peterson, Watkins, and Hoffman Are US Open Surprise: A Fan's Take

Group of Unknowns Excel in 2012 US Open at the Olympic Club

Yahoo Contributor Network

When the pairings were announced for the first two rounds of the 2012 US Open, played June 14-15, at The Olympic Club, there were several featured threesomes. The Big Three of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson may have received the most publicity in the United States. The top three in the world rankings, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, were also featured prominently.

After two days of play, of the six players mentioned above, only Tiger Woods is a contender, in a three-way tie for the tournament lead at 1-under par. Watson, Donald, and McIlroy have all been eliminated, having failed to qualify for the final two rounds June 16-17 at the Lake Course.

The surprise group of the championship began play on hole #1 at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, the very first group off the tee. The honor of playing first is generally given to players who are not expected to do well in the tournament. Considering that the players in this group all all non-members of the PGA Tour, sectional qualifiers, and that the highest world ranking among them is #734, the low expectations would have seemed appropriate.

John Peterson (1-over par, 4th place), Aaron Watkins (3-over, 9th) and Morgan Hoffman (6-over, 42nd), have all qualified to play in Saturday's third round. Theirs is one of only ten groups to qualify all three players forward and, with a combined score of 10-over par, they were outplayed by only one group. Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia (all ranked in the world's top 36 players) have a combined score of 4-over par. Who are these guys?

John Peterson: A 23-year-old Texan, Peterson won the 2011 NCAA Division I individual championship while at Louisiana State University. He turned pro in 2011, is ranked #831 in the world, and is playing in his first US Open. Next on his schedule is a return to the Hooters Tour.

Aaron Watkins: Watkins is a 29-year-old native of Florida, now living in Arizona. He went to school at Kansas State and has been a professional golfer since 2004. Currently #734 in the world rankings, he is also making his first appearance in a US Open.

Morgan Hoffman: 22 years old from Florida, Hoffman attended Oklahoma State. He become a professional in 2011, is currently ranked #1005 in the world, and is playing in his second US Open. As an amateur in the 2010 US Open, at Pebble Beach, he came to the 18th tee even par in the first round. After hitting two balls into the Pacific Ocean, he scored a quadruple bogey 9. Missing the cut in 2010, he now gets to play the weekend at The Olympic Club.

Only time will tell whether these three professionals go on to successful careers, but theirs is a great story, as they play for a chance to hoist the US Open Championship Trophy on Father's Day in 2012.

Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.

sources:

usopen.com

owgr.com

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