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Swing coach Ruggiero a busy man at Pinehurst

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PINEHURST, N.C. – The 114th U.S. Open promises to be a hectic week for Tony Ruggiero.

The Alabama-based swing coach will be working with three first-time Open participants this week at Pinehurst, nearly-turned-professional Smylie Kaufman and amateurs Robby Shelton and Sam Love.

“It’s hectic more than anything. I’m running around from hole to hole. Sometimes I wonder if I really did anything for any one guy,” Ruggiero said. “It’s exciting.”

As one would expect, Ruggiero isn’t doing much teaching this week. In fact, one would say he’s more of a mental coach considering the intense atmosphere surrounding the national championship.

“You’re not doing a lot of teaching when you’re here,” he said. “I try to convince all these guys they are all young, this is there first time here, and they need rest.”

Luckily, Ruggiero has a little experience around the Donald Ross gem. Beginning when he was 9 years old, he would spend his summers with his grandfather, Pat, who taught him to play at nearby Knollwood and would regularly take him to play the storied No. 2 course.

“I learned to play golf here as a little kid,” smiled Ruggiero, who visited his late grandfather’s house on Monday.