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Vick's U.S. Open low-amateur finish comes from serious prep work
20 Jun 2022
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: U.S. Open Golf Championship, The Country Club

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Travis Vick (Credit: USGA)
Travis Vick (Credit: USGA)

Mike Boylan, who has caddied at The Country Club for more than 20 years, took little credit on Friday evening as Travis Vick greeted his family on the back of the ninth green. However, it seems he played a big part in the Vick making it to the weekend of the U.S. Open with opening rounds of 70 and 69 at The Country Club.

Two days later, Vick had a silver medal around his neck after finishing as the low amateur.

While Vick drove the ball like one of the best in the world, his preparation is very much a reason for his success this week.

“He’s a big-time preparer,” said a family friend.

Each player in the field is allowed two extra practice rounds before the week officially begins on Monday. Vick didn’t have much time to squeeze in a trip to Boston after qualifying in Dallas on May 25 and then winning the NCAA matchplay title with the Texas Longhorns the same week, so he traveled up last weekend and played nine holes on Saturday and 18 more on Sunday.

But he didn’t play them alone.

Enter Mike Boylan.

Boylan has walked The Country Club thousands of times. He’s a scientist by trade, with a PhD from Harvard. He sees the game with the eyes of a scientist, but his knowledge of the course evokes the artisan within. As Boylan spoke about how he helped Vick, he speaks with his hands, describing contours, angles, and lines that players should take as they hike this legendary course carved out of Roxbury pudding stone.

“He’s just the nicest guy,” Brendan Walsh, the Director of Golf at The Country Club, said. “He’s caddied on the weekends. Everyone loves him at the club. He’s so understated, but he knows this golf course and I’m not surprised Travis had a strong showing.”

Boylan spent time with Vick walking the course and mapping out a plan of attack. The Country Club, as Jon Rahm said on Friday, offers options off the tee. In a major championship, every choice requires conviction.

“We talked about different lines to take and ways to play the holes,” Boylan said. “He’s a great player and hits it so solid. I didn’t do too much to help him.”

That seems hard to believe. Vick wanted to feel comfortable on this challenging, unfamiliar golf course.

"You're trying to make it your home course, so you can get comfortable over tee shots, wind direction, and green speeds," Vick said.

Over the opening two rounds, Vick’s name was at or near the top of the strokes gained off the tee category. As he closed out his back nine on Friday afternoon, he was always in the fairway, and often the last player to hit into the green due to his length.

Vick felt the pressure of competing down the stretch, but it didn’t measure up to competing for his teammates at Texas.

“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 after his round on Sunday. “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.”

On Sunday evening, Vick captured the low amateur honor, besting 15 other amateurs who arrived with hopes of making the cut and winning the silver medal.

It’s hard not to credit his preparation and those two rounds with Mike Boylan to helping him map his way around The Country Club. Great players enter their tournaments with a game plan, and it's unlikely any of the other 14 amateurs had one as specific as Vick's.

His low-am finish at Brookline capped off an incredible June for the Longhorn golfer.

“Yeah, it's kind of been like a golfer's high in a sense. I qualified for the Open, and then the following week we go to the NCAAs and end up winning," said Vick. "Then I get here and finish low am."

While he’s going to take a break from golf and skip the Northeast Amateur this week, he’ll be back competing alongside teammates at the Palmer Cup in Switzerland in early July. Vick has proven on many recent occasions that he can handle some of the toughest pressure in golf, both as an individual and a teammate. We will look for him to be a top individual performer and inspiration for the USA Palmer Cup team come match time.



ABOUT THE U.S. Open

The U.S. Open is the biggest of the 14 national championships conducted by the USGA. Open to amateurs and professionals.

The USGA intends to make the U.S. Open the most rigorous, yet fair, examination of golf skills, testing all forms of shot-making. The USGA prepares the course after careful consideration of 14 different factors.

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