UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – A nervy opening round for amateur Brian Campbell?
Not this year.
Campbell, who earlier this month completed his college career at Illinois, rebounded from a late double bogey to post a 3-under 67 Thursday and sit just two shots off the lead at the U.S. Open.
A year ago at Pinehurst, Campbell stumbled to a 6-over first round, then steadied himself to miss the cut by one.
This round – the lowest opener by an amateur since Mike Reid's 67 in 1976 – “kind of showed me that I do belong out here and I can shoot some good scores,” he said.
Campbell tried to apply some of the lessons he was taught in college by Illini coach Mike Small: stay within yourself, keep the holes in front of you, make it as easy as you can. Small’s final message: “Go get it. You belong out there.”
The 22-year-old doesn’t yet know when he will turn pro. He is one of the many amateurs vying for a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team, and a strong performance this week should help lock up a spot.
Spencer Levin’s T-13 finish in 2004 is the best U.S. Open finish by an amateur in the past 35 years.
At least one amateur has made the cut each of the past seven years in the Open, and five ams shot 71 or better on Day 1 (Campbell, Ollie Schniederjans, Nick Hardy, Denny McCarthy, Beau Hossler).
“It’s definitely weird walking around the practice range with all these guys that you’ve watched your whole life,” Campbell said. “The transition is definitely a tough feat, but I’m getting used to it.”