Scott Stallings is ‘home’ at U.S. Open: ‘I’m a confused New England redneck. But I can speak both languages’
BROOKLINE, Mass. — You would never know by his voice but Scott Stallings is from Massachusetts.
The professional golfer was born in Worcester and lived there until he was three years old before his family moved to Tennessee. That’s where Stallings developed his southern drawl.
“I’m a confused New England redneck. But I can speak both languages,” Stallings, 37, said. “I can roll the Rs, drag the As and I can take 10 minutes to say one sentence. I always say I learned the language from my mom.”
A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, Stallings is in Brookline this week for the 122nd U.S. Open at The Country Club.
“This one means a little bit more…,” Stallings wrote in a note on social media on May 23. “Not often a major championship is played in New England, so to qualify for this in Massachusetts – where I’m from and where a lot of my family still lives … this is special.”
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Although he’s excited to be back in Boston, the burly golfer says he’s on a business trip. But that mindset didn’t stop him from indulging in Italian food in the North End or discussing the option of jumping on a duck boat with his kids.
“As much as it is exciting to be here and definitely (is) my favorite city, it’s still work. So that’s first and foremost,” Stallings said. “… At the end of the day it’s a golf tournament. There’s 18 holes start to finish. So put your head down and deal with it.”
Last year, Stallings signed a partnership with NOBULL – a footwear, apparel and accessory brand that also sponsors New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. During practice rounds this week, an entourage of people wearing NOBULL clothing followed Stallings around.
One of those people was Matt O’Keefe, of Massachusetts. O’Keefe and Stallings became friends four years ago through fitness training.
“He helps me with golf and I help him with fitness,” said O’Keefe, who went to Boston College. “He wouldn’t agree with that, but that’s sort of how we met.”
Scott Stallings plays a shot from the rough onto the fifth green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament. Photo: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
O’Keefe caddied for Stallings for all three of his practice rounds. The two have become close through fitness – and their love of Boston sports.
“I’m so happy for him,” O’Keefe said. “I know this was one of the top goals he had – especially this year but maybe of his career – to come home because how often do you get to play in a major championship in your hometown?”
One hint that Stallings has ties to Boston is his yardage book. On one side is a red ‘B’ Boston Red Sox logo and the other a New England Patriots logo.
On Tuesday, Stallings and his family toured Fenway Park and attended a Sox game. Stallings posted a photo on social media of his wife and two kids sitting in the Green Monster seats with the caption of “Doesn’t get much better” followed by a red heart and baseball emoji.
Two days later, Stallings teed it up on the 10th hole to start his third Open championship.
He began with a bogey on the 500-yard Par 4 before securing two pars. Stallings then bogeyed the 437-yard Par 4 13th hole before he recovered on the next hole with a birdie. Yet Stallings couldn’t get it going after that and carded three more bogeys to finish with a 4-over-par 74.
“Not my best on the course today, but this is a win,” Stallings posted on Instagram following the round as he referenced a picture of a braid he made in his daughter’s hair. “Better tomorrow @usopengolf.”
Scott Stallings plays his shot from the third tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
In 2019, Stallings missed an Open cut with an 80-74 at Shinnecock Hills while he made the cut in 2013 at Merion Golf Club and finished tied for 53rd. This year, he’s hoping to compete on the weekend.
“You obviously have places throughout your season and career that you tend to focus on and want to be ready for and this has definitely been one of them,” Stallings said. “I did the work to get here. We’re not just here to participate. We’re here to compete.”
“This is going to be a wild weekend and I hope Scott is there to experience it because I think the crowd will get around him being a hometown kid,” O’Keefe said.
Stallings starts his second round on Friday at Hole No. 1 with a 1:14 p.m. tee time.
Tommy Cassell is a senior multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tommycassell44.
Check the yardage book: The Country Club Composite Course for the 2022 U.S. Open