Gliss-tening on the Surface

RSS

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- He had been warned: Expect more than you can imagine. He tried to prepare himself, but what can prepare you for this?
 
Live television. Press conferences. Autograph hounds. Galleries the size of your high school graduating class watching.
 
Tom Glissmeyer is 16 years old. And hes competing in this years U.S. Open. Hes the youngest participant in the field, just as Derek Tolan was one year ago.
 
Tolan and Glissmeyer have more in common than an annual slot in history. They each qualified for their respective Open at the same site ' Columbine Country Club in Littleton, Col.
 
Derek is a great guy, and were good friends, said a wide-eyed Glissmeyer. He was actually the first person I talked to Tuesday morning (after he qualified). He said to just try and keep focused on the golf, and youre there to play golf.
 
It didnt take Glissmeyer long to know those directions are easy to recite and hard to rehearse.
 
Its kind of hard when you see Tiger and Ernie walking down the other fairway. The natural tendency is to stop and watch them, the Colorado Springs resident said.
 
Its a little overwhelming.
 
Todays stars can relate. At one time everyone had to make his first PGA Tour start or major appearance. Asked to recall the first major he competed in, Ernie Els smiled and told the story of his debut in 1989.
 
I was 19 when I played at the British Open. I was almost too nervous to get on to the practice range, he recalled. And when I go there, there was a spot open next to Jack Nicklaus, and I just slid in there behind him, very quietly. He turned around and said, 'Hello.' I almost wet myself, but that was my first meeting with Jack.
 
Glissmeyer,a junior at Cheyenne Mountain High School, will play alongside fellow qualifiers Bryce Molder and Sean Murphy in the first two rounds. He earned his spot by shooting 68 in a local qualifier at Buffalo Run, a course east of Denver. He then posted 72-69 at Columbine in the sectional qualifier. He was one of only two players to advance from that site, and did so despite making triple bogey on his first hole.
 
Somewhere along the line I made 10 more birdies and here I am, he casually explained.
 
Glissmeyer is without a spectacular amateur resume. According to him, I havent won everything, but Ive played in a lot of tournaments that Ive placed in the top 5.
 
His biggest tournament to date was last years U.S. Junior Amateur, where he lost in the second round of match play. He estimates that he has played in excess of 100 tournaments over the last five years and has finished in the top 5 75 percent of the time.
 
Though he quickly added: This is not going to be one of the top-5s; Im pretty sure thats out of the question.
 
Unlike Tolan, who expressed little interest outside of the golf course, Glissmeyer appears to be a bit more rounded. In addition to playing basketball, baseball, tennis and hockey, he says he has made only three Bs since the fourth grade. Its easy in Colorado to separate the golf and the school because half the time during the school year you cant even play golf, he said.
 
Glissmeyer started playing golf when he six years old; 10 years later hes playing alongside Michael Campbell in a practice round at the nation's premiere golf tournament.
 
I think the most important thing that he told me was just go out and care but dont care. You cant beat yourself up over a swing that wasnt perfect. Youve just got to go hit the ball, and hit it hard. Thats the best advice Ive gotten ' just pretend its a practice round, he said.
 
Again, easy to recite, hard to rehearse.
 
Glissmeyer, who has Country Club of Colorado pro Chris Wilkens on his bag, blasted balls every-which-way but straight in Tuesdays practice round with Campbell. He even admitted he drives a car much better than a golf ball.
 
My tendency is to kind of spray the driver a little bit, and that isnt going to help out here, he acknowledged. But everything else ' going into the greens I think Ive handled pretty well. I think the big key is going to be to keep it in the short grass.
 
Its likely that Glissmeyer will repeat the fate of Tolan, who shot 78-88 on Bethpages Black Course for a 26-over total and missed the cut. But making it to the weekend isnt really his goal this week. Hes actually already achieved it.
 
I think just being here is a success for me, he said. Im not going to determine if it was a successful week or not based on how I play.
 
Im just going to take this experience and Ill be able to apply it to the rest of my tournaments the rest of my life ' how to handle the pressure and the stresses on the course and off the course.
 
My goal this week is just to take everything in and enjoy it to the fullest.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Open Home
  • Full Tournament Coverage
  • Olympia Fields Course Tour