Ben’s Bethpage Blog

Ben’s Bethpage Blog

June 17, 2009

“I played a practice round today with D.J. Trahan (former Clemson All-American). When you come to the US Open you sign up for practice rounds when you register on Monday. D.J. had already put me down for his group on Wednesday, so that was pretty nice. He and I played at the US Open sectional in Atlanta last year and he beat me in a playoff.

“It is always good to play with someone you know when you are going through the practice rounds, especially a veteran like DJ.. Scott Gutschewski was our third player today. He played at Nebraska about 10 years ago and this is his first US Open as well. I played with Brent Snedeker on Tuesday. Monday I got in late and played five holes in the afternoon by myself before it started raining.

“My dad caddied for me during the qualifier in Maryland, but Michael Sims will be my caddie for the US Open. He is a former Clemson golfer who was on the National Championship team (2003). He lives in the Clemson area and really knows the game. I asked Jordan Byrd (Clemson assistant coach) who would be a good caddie and he recommended Michael. I called him and he said, yes and flew up to New York. I picked him up on Monday when I was driving in after playing the Sunnehanna Amateur.

“This is quite a golfing experience for me. First of all I am playing in the US Open. But it is an experience from a pure golf standpoint. I started two weeks ago playing 72 holes over four days at the Palmetto Invitational in Aiken. Then I went to the US Open Sectional qualifier in Maryland for 36 on Monday. Then I went to Pennsylvania for the Sunnehanna Invitational, which is another 72 holes in four days. Now I have had three practice rounds at Bethpage Black. Tomorrow will be my 19th straight day playing golf. Wow!

“This is a terrific course. I think it will play fair because there has been so much rain up here. The greens are soft because of the weather so I don’t think they will play so severe as we have seen in so many US Opens in recent years. I am told these are also the flattest US Open greens I will see.

“The toughest hole is the par four 7th that is 525 yards. I hit a solid drive today and still had a three-wood to the green. It will be interesting to see where they put the tees on Thursday as the course is slow because of the rain we have had. All the par four holes could play over 500 yard in length so hitting it straight will be the key for me and just about everyone.

“I am staying at a Marriott in Melville, NY which is just about 10 minutes from the course. The USGA reserves rooms for the late qualifers. It they didn’t do that I don’t know where we could have gotten a room near he course. My entire family is up here with me.

“Some people might know that my mother got hit with a drive on the fly at the US Collegiate this year. No, not by me, but by another player from Georgia Tech. She got hit in the mouth, but recovered and was back at the course by the time I finished. With so many people at the US Open there will be a lot more targets tomorrow, so I don’t think she will have to worry about getting hit. It will be great to look in the gallery and see my family tomorrow.

“I have a 9:03 AM tee time Thursday so my walk-up call will be about 6:45 AM. I will go to the course and eat some breakfast first, then go to the putting green. You have to take a shuttle to the driving range so that will take some time. Then, since I am starting on number 10, I have to take another shuttle to the tee. That shuttle will leave around 8:40 AM.

“I will be playing Thursday and Friday with Josh McCumber and Kevin Silva. Josh was an assistant coach at the University of Florida before he turned pro. Kevin played at North Carolina.

“I am looking forward to Thursday and will give you a report tomorrow night. There is rainy weather in the forecast so not sure how the schedule will go.”