Will Grimmer (Jones Cup photo)
When Will Grimmer
equates an amateur-golf experience to the U.S. Open, it carries some weight. As a veteran of two Opens, Grimmer, 21, should know. Maybe it’s that mindset – and a level of patience he developed in the four years between those starts – that helped Grimmer float to the top of the Jones Cup leaderboard on Friday.
Grimmer knows you don’t come to Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga., to make a load of birdies. There were five on his card, plus a bogey, on a 55-degree day with winds gusting up to 20 mph. That opening 4-under 68 left Grimmer with the lead and two shots ahead of Stephen Franken, an N.C. State senior from Raleigh, N.C.
As Grimmer said, there were no storytelling birdies on Friday, just solid shots and a lot of holed par putts.
“There’s some events that you go into knowing you need to make pars,” said Grimmer, who is making his fourth Jones Cup appearance. “(The Jones Cup) has more of a U.S. Open type mentality. You have to make pars and keep high numbers off the card.”
Grimmer’s best finish at Ocean Forest came in 2016 when he was T-4. The Cincinnati native usually precedes the Jones Cup with a South Florida winter start, to kick off some of the rust, but not this year. He hasn’t seen competition since the second stage of Web.com Tour Q-School in November. Grimmer fell short of advancing to the final stage, where status is on the line.
Even entering that event shows Grimmer’s hand – not that he was trying to hide a desire to play professionally in the near future. Making that transition is often an odd dance. The Jones Cup being such a good opportunity for a Walker Cup hopeful to make an impression, Grimmer certainly still sees himself in that mix. He calls a Walker Cup spot “one of the highest honors in amateur golf,” but it’s still something that requires a careful approach.
“In the past any time I’ve tried chasing certain goals or accomplishments, I tend to fall short,” he reasoned. “When I just focus on playing really good golf and doing the things I need to do to be successful, that’s when things fall into place.”
Grimmer was 17 when he first qualified for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, which was a year after he had made national headlines for shooting a 59 at Pinehurst No. 1 during the North & South Amateur. It’s hard to imagine how those two events couldn’t skew expectations for success.
“Those two events just kind of gave me a lot of press, media attention, put me on the map, gave me an identify,” he said, clearly grateful for the opportunities. They also made it hard not to expect instant gratification. Grimmer eventually found himself chasing “superficialities” in the game and has worked hard not to get ahead of himself.
After 2014, Grimmer didn’t qualify for the U.S. Open again until this past summer. He was one of 14 amateurs at Shinnecock Hills and one of three to make the cut.
The 2014 U.S. Open was his second USGA event, after he had debuted at the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur. By the time he reached Shinnecock, Grimmer had played in 12 USGA championships.
“I felt like I was definitely more mature, more patient, more accepting of my game and everything going on around me that I was definitely going to be in a better position to contend and make the cut,” Grimmer said.
That patience extends to the next step, too. Grimmer is part of a “core nucleus” of seniors on an Ohio State team that won its last fall outing. Classmate Daniel Wetterich, also from Cincinnati, opened with 75 on Friday and is T-19.
“Right now, I’m just in a very good place with myself and my game,” he said. “Really enjoying the last lap of college golf.”
Another opportunity could never hurt.
ABOUT THE Jones Cup
The Jones Cup is probably the biggest of the
amateur majors in the United States, and the reason
is the venue and the strong U.S. and
international field. The past champions list is littered
with PGA Tour stars, including Justin Thomas,
Patrick Reed, Luke List, Kyle Stanley, Beau Hossler
This 54-hole individual stroke-play event,
in 2001, is played at Ocean Forest Golf Club.
The Rees Jones design opened in 1995 and has
the Georgia State Amateur Championship, the
Southern Amateur Championship and the 2001
Cup Match. The Jones Cup brings together
many of the finest amateurs from the United States
and abroad for a three-day competition.
The Jones Cup was born from a deep commitment to
amateur golf by the A.W. Jones family, who
founded the Cloister and Sea Island Golf Club in
The Sea Island Golf Club has played host to
seven USGA championships. The Jones Cup is yet
another extension of the family's strong
involvement in amateur golf.
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