- Associated Press - Thursday, June 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Beau Hossler used a practice round with his idol, Phil Mickelson, to build confidence early in the week at the U.S. Open.

Then, the 17-year-old in braces shot an even-par 70 at Olympic Club in the first round Thursday and was six shots better than Mickelson, a four-time major champion.

Hossler, the first high school player since the early 1950s to qualify for consecutive U.S. Opens, wasn’t surprised in the least by his own performance in front of dozens of family members and friends who made the trip from Orange County.

“Not at all,” said Hossler, one of eight amateurs in the field. “I’ve been playing really well lately. I expected myself to go out there and get a lot out of my round.”

Oddly enough, he said Mickelson’s advice to him after a Tuesday practice round was “conservative lines and aggressive swings” and “taking your medicine” with pars on the tight, twisting layout.

Hossler, who recently took second at the state high school championship as a junior, had 12 pars, three bogeys and three birdies Thursday. His biggest par was the one he made with a putt on No. 1.

“That was huge because it gives me a little confidence,” Hossler said.

It also helped having qualified and played in last year’s U.S. Open at Congressional, even though he missed the cut with rounds of 76-77.

“I was a lot less nervous,” he said. “Not saying I wasn’t nervous at all, because I was pretty nervous. But last year was pretty ridiculous.”

Hossler and fellow amateur Alberto Sanchez earned bragging rights over Mickelson and Mark McCormick on Tuesday in a little old-vs.-young match by winning 1 up.

“It was great,” Hossler said. “It was great to see how he prepared. Even though he hasn’t won, he’s had five second-place finishes and he’s consistently in contention. … I thought it would be great for me to learn from that.”

After the opening round, the kid still has bragging rights.


CUT RULE: The USGA decided this year to eliminate the 10-shot rule in making the cut. Starting this year at the U.S. Open, the cut will be only top 60 and ties.

About the only problem appears to be neglecting to tell the players.

Story Continues →