Hammer, 15, savoring first USGA event


Cole Hammer, right, with Jordan Spieth. (Getty Images)

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Want to feel old today? Consider this answer Tuesday from Cole Hammer, who was asked about his first U.S. Open memory.

“When Tiger [Woods] won in 2008, when he did that fist pump on the 18th green,” he said. “That’s the first time I remember.”

Tuesday is the seven-year anniversary of Woods’ dramatic playoff victory at Torrey Pines.

Hammer was 8 years old at the time.

Now, he’s preparing for his first USGA event, let alone his first crack at the Open. Hammer, who has already given a verbal commitment to the University of Texas for 2018, advanced through local and sectional qualifying, the latter after making birdie on four of his last five holes in Dallas.

At 15 years, 9 months and 21 days, he is the third-youngest competitor in U.S. Open history.

It’s already been a memorable week here for Hammer – a practice round with Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker and role model Jordan Spieth, a spot on the range next to Rory McIlroy, a few minutes in the short-game area next to Tiger.

First-round tee times: 115th U.S. Open

“Honestly, I don’t have many at all,” Hammer said when asked about expectations. “I’m just glad to be here.”

After all, he hasn’t even played in a U.S. Junior – he has a qualifier next week – or a U.S. Amateur. This week he was supposed to play in the Western Junior Amateur, so, no, he didn’t expect to make it all the way to Chambers.

“If I had any advice for Cole,” McIlroy said, “it would just be to take it all in and enjoy it and try to get as much out of it as he can. With the way he was hitting it on the range [Monday], I don’t think he’s got much to worry about.”