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Now he’s steady at 6 feet and 190 pounds.

Swing coach Jim Flick, best known for working with Jack Nicklaus, estimated that Hossler’s game is 10-15 percent stronger this year, and he’s more of a complete player.

The kid high school teammates dubbed “laser” because of his pinpoint accuracy just doesn’t always show it in practice.

Flick likened Hossler to NFL player Tim Tebow.

“Tebow seemed to practice poorly and play well when it really counted,” Flick said. “Beau seems to enjoy the challenge, and mentally seems to go through a transformation when it comes time to play.”

Flick, who spent two days earlier this week working with Hossler at Olympic, said being a late-bloomer and a short-hitter only helped Hossler hone his short game.

That practice round Tuesday with Mickelson, Hossler’s idol, might have been even more important.

Phil is like his guy and he’s been his guy since Beau was 5 or 6 years old,” his father said. “He was engaging and needling the boys and couldn’t have been any better. Considering he’s one of the favorites to win this thing, for him to take the time to do that was something Beau will never forget. You could see when he walked off and Phil gave him a pat on the butt, he was like, `Hey, this is neat.’

“I’m sure it helps his confidence a lot.”

It also will help having more than two dozen friends cheering him on from outside the ropes.

Jeff Higashi, a family friend for years, wasn’t surprised Hossler survived local and sectional qualifying again to get into another U.S. Open.

“He’s mentally so superior,” said Higashi, who remembers seeing Hossler reading golf magazines when he was 10. “He’s not caught up in it all. He’s not just here to play. He wants to succeed.”

Considering how hectic his life has been _ he recently finished taking finals in Latin and other advanced placement courses to complete his junior year _ Hossler was cool and collected on Olympic. Off No. 1 on Wednesday, he hit a perfect drive, sitting side by side with Furyk and Johnson in the fairway, then followed with a pin-high approach and two-putted for an easy par.

“He is a special player who we’re going to be reading a lot about in the next three years,” said Chuck Morales, Hossler’s high school coach.

Hossler is planning to make it three U.S. Opens in a row next year.

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