By Dave Shedloski
SAN FRANCISCO (June 17, 2012) -- Beau Hossler has spent his second U.S. Open constantly reassessing his goals.
After matching his opening-round 70 with another even-par 70 Saturday at The Olympic Club, the 17-year-old amateur from Mission Viejo, Calif., has set his horizons a bit higher than trying to finish as low amateur.
He wants to be low competitor.
Hossler enters the final round of the 112th U.S. Open tied for eighth at 3-over 213, well ahead of two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champion Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay, the other two amateurs to make the cut at the Lake Course.
Cantlay, the 2011 U.S. Amateur runner-up and low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open, and Spieth, who just led the University of Texas to the NCAA Division I title, are ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking supported by The R&A and USGA.
Hossler will play alongside two-time PGA Tour winner Jason Dufner in the sixth-from-last group at 2:20 p.m. PDT.
He thinks he can beat Dufner. And everyone else, something that hasn’t been accomplished by an amateur since Johnny Goodman in 1933. Since then, Jack Nicklaus came the closest to winning as an amateur when he finished second to Arnold Palmer at Cherry Hills 52 years ago.
"I still have the goal to be low amateur," said Hossler, "but my goal now is to win the tournament.
"I feel like I'm in contention to win the tournament, and I'm going to try and take advantage of it tomorrow."
He flashed a smile that showed a mouthful of braces. He didn't look imposing, but then consider his scores, particularly Saturday's effort, which was a true display of grit. Hossler, who missed the cut last year at Congressional and is the first high school-age player to play in consecutive U.S. Opens since Mason Rudolph (1950-51), made four bogeys in Round 3, and each time he birdied the very next hole.
That's called bounce-back in the stat sheet. It’s also called heart in the golf arena.
Hossler has made 10 birdies over 54 holes, second-most in the field. He'll probably need a few to catch 54-hole leaders Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk, both U.S. Open champions who sit at 1-under 209, but he's going to give it a try. He has nothing to lose.
Still, even if he doesn’t win, there could be other perks for a high finish. The low eight and ties receive an invitation to the 2013 Masters, and the top 10 and ties get a spot in the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. Hossler also is putting himself in position to be selected for the 2013 USA Walker Cup Team.
Of course, there’s the small matter of 18 more holes to play on one of the most rigorous championship layouts in golf.
"Obviously, I'm not experienced in there, so I can't really talk about what it's going to be like, but I know from other tournaments that I feel pretty comfortable coming down the back nine when I'm in contention,” said Hossler, the stroke-play medalist at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur. “So, obviously, it's a little bit different being the U.S. Open, but I put myself in contention many a tournament and have come through successfully."
It would be an amazing accomplishment if he could continue that trend.