SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, 14-year-old Andy Zhang made headlines for qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.
Thursday it was 17-year-old Beau Hossler’s turn.
Hossler, an amateur from Mission Viejo, Calif., found himself on the first page of the leaderboard after a posting a steady, even-par 70, and he was quick to credit 41-year-old Phil Mickelson for his success.
Hossler and Mickleson played a practice round on Tuesday, with Mickelson playing the role of Yoda and Beau as young Skywalker. Phil joked. Beau chuckled. Phil preached. Beau listened. Mickelson’s Cliff’s Notes for the Lake Course?
“Conservative lines and aggressive swings,” Hossler said.
And don’t get greedy on the long putts.
“Sometimes you're going to have a 40-footer, but you want to have a speed that leaves you maybe one or two feet short of the hole as opposed to two or three feet by, giving you a chance to go in,” Hossler said. “So taking your pars and taking your medicine is huge.”
The round with Lefty was more than just a rewarding tutorial for Hossler, who has already committed to play golf at the University of Texas beginning in 2013. It was a stroll with his hero.
“Phil is like his guy, and he’s been his guy since Beau was 5 or 6 years old,” Hossler's father, Beau Sr., told the Washington Post earlier this week. “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.’”
So was Hossler’s first round. Three birdies against three bogeys on this beastly track?
“I've been playing really well lately,” Hossler said. “I expected myself to go out there and get a lot out of my round. I left a few out there, but you have to accept that -- it's the U.S. Open, it's going to happen.”
Less likely to happen is Hossler upsetting the field at the Olympic Club, even if this place is known for surprise winners.
The last amateur to win the U.S. Open was Johnny Goodman in 1933.
(Andrew Redington / Getty Images)