Webb Simpson took home the U.S. Open trophy last year, but Beau Hossler and Andy Zhang took home unforgettable experiences from The Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Zhang was one of the stories going into the tournament. The 14-year-old became the youngest to ever qualify for the Open, then went out and backed it up with a 79 and a 77.
Hossler, then 17, briefly had the second-round lead, and move back into contention with a 70 in the third round. He struggled in the final round, but still had a chance to be low amateur until a double bogey on the last hole. Hossler tied for 29th, finishing a couple of shots behind Tiger Woods, but ahead of idol Phil Mickelson.
“I’d rather have (the attention) than not, that’s for sure,” Hossler said after shooting 75-71 on Saturday to put him in a tie for 14th at the Terra Cotta Invitational at Naples National. “It’s nice that it’s kind of died down a little bit, just get to focus on myself and actually worry about other things, I guess.”
Hossler was worrying about playing in a tournament for the first time since October. He’s redshirting this year at Texas, and the Terra Cotta was an opportunity to get out and play, and do so against some top-notch competition.
“This is really my first competitive tournament in a while,” said Hossler, a Californian who lost the braces fans noticed at the Open just after it. “I’m just glad to get out there.”
Hossler and Texas coach John Fields mutually agreed that redshirting was a good idea.
“Obviously I want to do what’s best for the team and myself,” Hossler said. “I think it was definitely in the right direction for both of us as far as me getting adjusted and everything.”
Robby Shelton, a University of Alabama commit who is No. 1 in the Golfweek junior rankings, and England’s Nathan Kimsey are tied for the lead at 3-under 141.
“The second 18 I started hitting my driver a lot better and my 3-woods off the tee,” said Shelton, who had a 70. “The irons still aren’t as good as they could be.”
No. 2 junior Jim Liu, who tied for second last year and won the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur, is in a four-way tie for third.
Community School’s Jake Marriott, an Augusta State recruit, pulled off an eagle and then a double eagle in his first round. He was 1-under after 27 holes, but faltered in his final nine with a 42. Marriott chipped in out of the bunker for eagle on No. 4, then topped that on the par-5 15th — hitting a hybrid from 234 yards.
“I saw it bounce a couple of times, and it looked good,” Marriott said. “ ... I didn’t get to see it go in, but that was fun.”
Leaders will go off at 9:55 a.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
Zhang, who turned 15 in December, found out about the Terra Cotta from a friend, who helped get an email to tournament director Denny Glass. He played well Saturday, but said he couldn’t get any putts to fall, and shot 75-74 for a tie for 30th.
Playing in the Open had an almost immediate positive impact on Zhang.
“After that, it kind of gave me a lot of confidence going to a lot of tournaments,” he said. “I don’t feel as nervous on the tee — the first tee or any tee, or any putts — not as much. You still get nervous ... but it definitely helped me a lot.”
Hossler and Zhang both hope to get back to the Open, which is at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., from June 13-16. Hossler, who also qualified in 2011, is exempt from local qualifying, but Zhang will have to make it through both levels like he did last year.
For this weekend, though, Hossler is enjoying the surroundings.
“The facility’s one of the best I’ve ever seen as far as condition and hospitality and everything,” he said.
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Terra Cotta Invitational
at Naples National Golf Club
1. Nathan Kimsey, England, 68-73/141; 1. Robby Shelton, Wilmer, Ala., 71-70/141; 3. Josh Lee, Orange Park, 72-70/142; 3. Jim Liu, Smithtown, N.Y., 73-69/142; 3. Zachary Olsen, Cordova, Tenn., 70-72/142; 3. Philipp Westermann, Germany, 70-72/142; 7. Jack Whelan, Topsfield, Mass., 70-73/143; 8. Jose Luis Montano, Bolivia, 73-71/144; 8. Brad Wilder, Fort Wright, Ky., 70-74/144; 10. Max Buckley, Rye, N.Y., 72-73 145; 10. Ricardo Celia, Colombia, 74-71/145; 10. Brad Dalke, McKinney, Texas, 74-71/145; 10. Gavin Hall, Pittsford, N.Y., 75-70/145
146 — Mario Beltran, Spain, 73-73; Beau Hossler, Mission Viejo, Calif., 75-71; Clancy Waugh, North Palm Beach, 72-74
147 — Nick Gilliam, Gainesville, 74-73; Kevin Marsh, Las Vegas, 72-75; Minghao Wang, China, 72-75
148 — Chelso Barrett, Keene, N.H., 73-75; Tommy Brennan, Covington, La., 71-77; George Cunningham, Tucson, Ariz., 75-73; Noah Edmondson, Davidson, N.C., 75-73; Neil Henderson, Scotland, 75-73; Tim Jackson, Germantown, Tenn., 72-76; Will Long, Gastonia, N.C., 73-75; Michael Werenski, South Hadley, Mass., 75-73; Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C., 76-72; Bill Williamson, Cincinnati, 75-73
149 — Ben Balter, Naples, 71-78; Cameron Champ, Sacramento, Calif., 75-74; Gene Elliott, West Des Moines, Iowa, 75-74; Danny Guise, Greenwich, Conn., 74-75; Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa., 73-76; Tae Wan Lee, Korea, 76-73; Jake Marriott, Naples, 72-77; Garrett Rank, Canada, 71-78; Benjamin Rusch, Switzerland, 74-75; Andy Zhang, China, 75-74
150 — Kristian Caparros, Miami Lakes, 73-77; Chris Hemmerich, Canada, 76-74; Jack Maguire, St. Petersburg, 77-73
151 — Mike McCoy, West Des Moines, Iowa, 78-73; Davis Riley, Hattiesburg, Miss., 75-76; Richy Werenski, South Hadley, Mass., 77-74; Victor Wiggins, Gastonia, N.C., 74-77; Woody Woodward, Hilton Head, S.C.
152 — Cam Andrade, Atlanta, 74-78; Danny Schmieding, Germany/Naples, 75-77; Jackson Stroup, Naples, 76-76; Danny Walker, Bradenton, 76-76; Kevin Watford, Franklin, Tenn., 74-78
153 — Spence Ciesla, Naples, 78-75; Patrick Duffy, Omaha, Neb., 77-76; Max Greyserman, Short Hills, N.J., 76-77
154 — Chris Petefish, Scottsdale, Ariz., 76-78
155 — Conrad Hahne, Ramsey, Minn., 78-77
156 — James Clark, Columbus, Ga., 77-79; Will Dickson, Providence, R.I., 78-78; Rigel Fernandes, India, 76-80; Bobby Leopold, Coventry, R.I.; Michael Primavera, Naples, 77-79; Andre Tourinho, Brazil, 74-82
157 — Colin Brennan, Metheun, Mass., 79-78; Ryan Celano, Naples, 78-79; Thadd Obecny II, Wheeling, W.Va., 79-78; Frank Vana, Shrewsbury, Mass., 78-79
159 — Jeff Lang, Lexington, Mass., 85-74
162 — Brian Carlson, Madison, Conn., 82-80; Brandon Pierce, Covington, La., 83-79; Will Strauss, La Jolla, Calif., 78-84
163 — Austin Jackson, Germantown, Tenn., 87-76; Stephen Walsh, Ireland, 80-83; Jonathan Woods, Duxbury, Mass., 80-83
164 — Joey Hildebrand, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., 85-79
170 — Jake DeForest, Bismarck, N.D., 86-84
WD — Matt Ceravolo, Wellington, 84; Jose Hernandez, Dominican Republic