My Dad got me into golf before I was a teenager. I played on my high school team & ever since I can remember, which is a long time since I'll be 40 in July
, I've watched all the "major" golf tournaments each year. I grew up on Long Island in NY and got to play Bethpage Black in the early 90's. Halfway through the round I told the guys that I was playing with that this could be a "US Open" course. The US Open is always held on super tough courses where the rough is high & the greens are crazy fast. For those that never heard of Bethpage Black, it's the only true public course to ever host the US Open (my prediction came true in 2002!). Pebble Beach has hosted the US Open, and is public, but you have to pay $300+ to play at Pebble Beach where it still costs around $35 to play at Bethpage Black. It was awesome to see the pros play on a course I had played before. So I obviously love golf.
I moved to Florida, or Hell as I like to call it
, in 98 & my 1st job was at a golf resort in the West Palm Beach area. Just around the same time I started working there, a young guy from Michigan who had just moved to Florida to turn pro started working there. I'm not mentioning the name of the resort on purpose because they treated their employees poorly and don't deserve the plug. We both worked there about 9 months or so and then he helped me get a job at a different course. I stopped working there and then moved to where I am now in central Florida. We never kept in touch, but every year during the US Open, I would check the field to see if he qualified or not. Anyone can try to qualify for the US Open (Tony Romo). The 2 years I knew him (98 & 99) he made it all the way to the last qualifier before missing it by 2-3 strokes. Sure enough in 2004 he qualified for the US Open played at Shinnecock Hills (also on LI). He missed the cut by like 2 strokes but played well.
So last night (Wednesday night) after work I'm watching the Golf Channel's coverage of all the "pre-game" talk and they were scrolling the tee times on the bottom of the screen. I decide to see if my old buddy qualified this year and sure enough he did! I was happy for him that he's still following his dream of being on the PGA Tour. No doubt the best golfer I ever played with. He was playing the Golden Bear Tour in Florida when I knew him and now he's on the Nationwide Tour. So I wake up today a little after ESPN's coverage began. I turn on the US Open and I start fiddling around, not watching the TV and I hear: "Unheralded Justin Hicks is at -4 leading the US Open". I almost fell on the floor. I know someone and have played golf with someone who is......LEADING THE US OPEN
Unbelievable day. While 99.9999% of the world is saying "Justin who?", I actually know the guy. Fairways & greens Justin. Stay focused. Make pars. Minimize the damage. Keep it up for 3 more days!