UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Just before his opening round Thursday, Cole Hammer appeared to get emotional on the 10th tee.
Was he fighting back tears?
“I was just praying,” he said. “I always pray right before my round on the first tee. That’s all I was doing.”
Hammer, the 15-year-old qualifier who is the third-youngest participant in U.S. Open history, said that he wasn’t “emotional or anything.”
“It was like nervous excitement,” he said. “I've never felt that feeling before.”
Hammer’s opening tee shot at Chambers Bay barely caught the left rough, and his slash-out came to rest about 15 feet from the flag. He made par and played his first 11 holes in 2 over before hitting a rough patch on Nos. 3-6. He was 5 over on that stretch and ended up with an opening 77.
“If you don’t put your ball on the fairways some bad things can happen,” he said.