Hossler’s rare feat almost overshadowed at US Open

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - At 17, Beau Hossler is almost old news at the U.S. Open.

That’s what happens when a 14-year-old gets in the field at The Olympic Club and all Hossler has done is qualify two straight years as a high school amateur.

Even Hossler’s dad said all the media attention on Andy Zhang this week was warranted.

“I understand the crowds around a 14-year-old getting in. That is incredible,” Beau Hossler Sr. said Wednesday. “He deserves that attention.”

While Zhang will be battling the nerves of a first-time competitor, Hossler is feeling right at home.

He and fellow amateur Alberto Sanchez took money off Phil Mickelson and Mark McCormick on Tuesday in a little old-vs.-young match-play competition.

And Wednesday, Hossler was playing a relaxed practice round with Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Zach Johnson _ who have a combined 41 previous U.S. Opens under their belts.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Hossler, who birdied two of his final three holes at the nearby Daly City sectional to qualify this year. “I feel like I’m a little more experienced this year. I feel comfortable out here.”

That has changed his goals _ even if he shares the same braces-filled smile as Zhang.

“I want to be low amateur, and play the entire tournament,” Hossler said about making the cut, which he failed to do last year in shooting rounds of 76-77 at Congressional.

That would mean faring better than Walker Cup players Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth _ the latter a big reason Hossler committed to play at Texas in 2013.

“I think (Olympic) suits my game better in that it’s very difficult off the tee and plays hard and fast,” Hossler said.

Of course, just a few years ago getting off the tee was hardly Hossler’s strong suit.

“I’m going to say he was 5-3, 130 pounds, and that might be pushing it,” his father said about his son competing as a 14-year-old in his first U.S. Amateur. “It was impossible. He had to lay up at seven of the par 4s.”

The kid from Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County finally shot up at age 16, which left him feeling less-than-coordinated at last year’s U.S. Open.

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