Travis Vick is the U.S. Open silver medalist (Credit: USGA)
There are probably very few videos or images of Travis Vick
with a golf club in his hand at an early age. Football and baseball were Vick’s main sports growing up and golf came a little later in life. As his talent for golf became apparent, he turned his attention to the individual sport.
While a lot has been made about Vick’s competitive nature and the reps he got playing different sports, it seems the pressure of playing for a team could be the most important experience for Vick.”
After making the cut on Friday, capping off an incredible month of golf that included clinching the winning point for the Texas Longhorns, Vick said he felt more pressure chasing a title with the Longhorns than he did while playing this week at The Country Club.
“NCAA is way more pressure. Even though there are thousands of more fans here, when you're
playing for your team and you're playing for a university, there's just something about it because it's something that we practice for all year long and you only get one opportunity to do that,” Vick said.
He understood the value of building and winning, something as a team.
“We have three seniors on our team. So that added a little bit more pressure to try to get it done for them as well,” Vick added.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the U.S. Open was a walk in the park.
“But to say that there was no pressure out here would be a lie, especially when you're on the first tee with Brooks Koepka right next to you. What a great experience. Super grateful for the USGA and everybody that helped run this event.”
Even after a disastrous quadruple-bogey on Saturday when his ball continued to find divots at the bottom of the eighth hole collection area, Vick birdied the next two holes to steady the ship.
Today, playing with Brooks Koepka, Vick was solid, shooting 73 and beating the four-time major champion by four shots.
“You know you did something special when your caddie is bawling on the eighteenth hole,” Vick said following the round.
Adam Porzak has been Vick’s swing coach for a year. According to Vick’s father, they are a solid pair.
Vick also credited Mike Boylan, a long-time caddie, for helping him prepare for the week.
“He was incredible. He's such a nice guy and ridiculously smart. He obviously knew the course in and out,” Vick said. “He helped with some strategy off the tees. For example, on three, he wanted to hit 3-wood. He felt like that was the better percentage play. So that's what I did until the wind switched.”
On Sunday, Vick and Sam Bennett
were the two amateurs with a chance at the silver medal. A quadruple-bogey on the second hole from Austin Greaser shot him out of contention.
Sam Bennett's 73 on Sunday left him two shots behind Vick for low amateur honors. Like Vick, Bennett was playing in his first major, but he also had some experience playing in professional events this past year, earning exemptions to the Bay Hill Invitation, Dubai Desert Classic, and the Valero Texas Open.
“I was ready, the crowds and the nerves were fine. I felt really comfortable out there,” Bennett said. “It was great to get this experience.”
Bennett feels ready for this level of golf, and this week helped crystalize that self-belief. Even though he’s lined up for one more year at Texas A&M, he knows he belongs among the best in the world.
Bennett’s caddie, Taylor Ford, brought a touch of professional experience to the bag this week, too. Ford has been a tour caddie for Stewart Cink. Ford also looped for Bennett’s assistant coach, so when Bennett was selected to play in Ford’s hometown of Columbus for his final qualifying, the stars aligned and Bennett and Ford teamed up.
“It’s kind of the deal. If you qualify, you have to bring that caddie with you,” Bennett said.
It proved to be a good move for Bennett.
Bennett was playing with a heavy heart today, as he lost his father a year ago. He was grateful to have his mom and brothers and a few friends join him for the week. He even got to take in a game at Fenway Park on Tuesday, which he really enjoyed.
Team Greaser was also a strong contingent this week. Austin Greaser's
brother Byron was on the bag and a bevy of family and were friends outside the ropes cheering him on, Greaser felt more settled than he did at The Masters.
“After talking with my family after Augusta, I learned how to settle into a very different atmosphere that amateurs are not really used to,” Greaser said following his round.”
Sticking with a game plan on and off the course was important to Greaser, too. He worried about too many things that were out of his control.
“I did a good job in staying in what I do and not changing it based on the fact that it’s the U.S. Open and there are a lot of people watching.”
was playing in his sixth major championship and his second U.S. Open. While he wasn’t pleased with how the tournament ended, a double bogey on the 18th stung him a bit as he processed the week, he does understand what it means to play the weekend at the U.S. Open.
“Making the cut in any major, let alone the U.S. Open is pretty special,” Hagestad said. “I wish I had played a little better on the weekend. But I had the chance to go play golf at the U.S. Open on Father’s Day and share that with friends and family and had one of my best friends on the bag for the whole week.”
Hagestad also enjoyed changing his dad’s golfing plans for the weekend, as he was there to watch his son compete.
Hagestad has played a lot of golf in the last few weeks, and he could feel it coming down the stretch on Friday trying to make the cut and then as he finished up on Sunday. He reached the final of the Anderson Cup at Winged Foot and then headed to Brookline. On Wednesday, he’ll play in the North East Amateur down the road at Wannmoisett.
As the week wound down for the amateurs, they seemed at ease with playing in such a huge event. The crowds are always a big adjustment along with the mental energy to compete with the best players in the world for four days.
As Hagestad and Greaser chatted following the round, Hagestad joked, “Everything from now on will feel so much easier.”
At his post-round press conference, Vick said this stellar run of golf he's on feel like a "golfer's high."
"It was one of my goals that I had coming in. So to accomplish that feat definitely gives me confidence. I definitely have areas of my game that need improvement. It was nice being able to watch the world's best and see what they do well and kind of compare my game to theirs."
After four rounds in tough conditions, Vick earned his silver medal and will hope to use the last month as a springboard as he heads into the Palmer Cup in Switzerland where he'll be back competing in a team event and representing the United States, alongside Sam Bennett.