Ohio State golfer Will Grimmer reached the halfway mark of his second U.S. Open on Friday, and unlike in his first appearance four years ago, that didn’t mean he had to pack up his clubs and head home.
“To be playing the weekend in a U.S. Open, it obviously is going to be an experience unlike anything I’ve ever had before,” Grimmer said.
A 21-year-old from Cincinnati who will be a senior next season, Grimmer made the cut on the treacherous Shinnecock Hills course on Long Island, New York. His 5-over-par total is two strokes ahead of the cutline, the likes of which Tiger Woods and other notables could not climb.
Grimmer, in a large group tied for 25th place, has the best score among the four amateurs who made the cut. He stands nine strokes behind second-round leader Dustin Johnson (4 under).
“It’s incredible,” Grimmer said. “Every stage is a little bigger, a little better,” he added, tracing his rise from the local qualifier to the sectional qualifier two weeks ago in Springfield to qualifying to play the weekend in the tournament.
“You’re excited, you’re on the biggest stage in the world. I qualified for this four years ago (as a 17-year-old), and it was fun. But I knew coming into it this year I was a better player now, and I was eager and excited to go out and compete on as tough a golf course as you can find out there.”
What has made the difference has been making a few birdies to counterbalance a few more bogeys while avoiding the big numbers — double-, triple- and sometimes-worse bogeys — that have doomed others. His short game, he said, was on through the first two rounds, in which he shot a 3-over 73 Thursday and a 2-over 72 Friday.
“I have put a lot of hard work into my short game the past few years, because four years ago, I didn’t have a lot of the shots that I have now,” Grimmer said. “It is very comforting, because great ball striking can only help you so much in a tournament like this” because some of the best shots don’t hold the greens. “Knowing I have that short game now gives me more confidence from a ball-striking perspective because I know I can recover, at least so far.”
His first goal was making the cut. Now he’d like to win, of course, but realistically he’d like to wind up the low amateur because that person also receives a silver medal at the awards ceremony and the career panache that goes with it.
“Getting that honor would be tremendous, something that can help you in a lot of ways later on in your career,” Grimmer said. “But I do know that the next two days, even though it’s the same tournament, the weekend is going to have a different feel. I’m just going to try to go out with the same attitude and approach as the first couple of days, play my heart out, and see where that takes me.”