Everyone knows the big names in U.S. Open field: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. The names roll off our tongue with ease. But what makes our national Open truly special is that golfers like Brooks Koepka get an opportunity to test their mettle against the best players in the world.
Koepka, a three-time All-American at Florida State University, will be making his first major championship start this week at Olympic Club, after qualifying at the U.S. Open sectional in Florida. (Side note: he beat 14-year-old Andy Zhang in a playoff.)
He'll be writing all week for Devil Ball about his first U.S. Open experience. (You can also follow Brooks on Twitter at @BKoepka.)
SAN FRANCISCO, California — After playing with good friend Hunter Hamrick during Monday's practice round, I decided to switch things up a bit and play with Peter Hanson on Tuesday. But when I showed up for my round I was actually paired with Kevin Streelman.
While I'm sure I would've had a great time playing with Peter, Kevin was an absolute blast to hang out with for the afternoon. He had a lot of great advice for me and answered any question I had. I think that's one of the things people don't realize out here. Even though we're all trying to beat each other and win, most of these guys are more than willing to answer questions and give you advice.
Instead of playing 18 holes again on Tuesday, I decided to just play the back nine (it's actually 10 holes since you tee off on the ninth) and get a better feel for the finishing stretch at Olympic Club. It's still a learning experience for me since this is only my second round at the course, but I'm learning quickly that you don't want to be in this rough.
I've played some tough courses in my golf career, but the rough at Olympic is thickest I've ever seen. It's usually penal at the Open, but this grass just grabs your club and makes it nearly impossible to reach the green on approach shots.
If you hit it in the rough and it goes to the bottom, it's pretty much a complete guess where it's going to go from there. The USGA also has a number of shaved banks around the greens that could leave you 30 or 40 yards off target if you miss on the wrong side of the green.
There's no question the holes out here certainly keep you thinking, and if you let down your guard for a second, you're done.
Aside from getting a chance to play, my mom arrived on Tuesday and will be here to watch me this week. I have to say, it really means a lot to have her in San Francisco. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and just finished up Chemotherapy the end of April.
The great news is she's cancer free right now, but her strength isn't all the way back just yet. We're going to sit down and map out the course so she can watch me at different points during my round. Needless to say, it's going to be a special week for us.
My brother, Chase, who caddied for me at U.S. Open sectionals, would've been out here as well, but I wanted him to concentrate on his game this week. He's going to be in the field at the Sunnehanna Amateur, and at this point in his career, it's important for him to play these big events. We'll definitely keep in touch during the week, though.
I'm looking forward to another day of golf tomorrow at Olympic Club. I continue to learn a little more about this course every day, and the way things are going, I feel confident I'll be ready to go when I step on the tee for Thursday's opening round.