UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - On paper, Michael Putnam is a long shot to win the U.S. Open with three wins on the Web.com circuit to his credit but none on the PGA Tour. But on the unique Chambers Bay course making its debut as an Open venue, no one is more familiar with the demands it will make.
Putnam lives two miles from the course and was given the honor of being the first one to play the course when it opened in 2007 and will be the first one to tee off in the Open Thursday morning.
Describing that initial round, Putnam said: "They charted the whole round, and it was a pretty neat experience. Now, eight years later, I'll be the first person to tee off for the championship here at Chambers Bay. It's a pretty neat and cool honor to have.
"I think I shot 70 [even par in the first official round]. I definitely held the course record for at least a day."
Putnam played Chambers Bay at least 30 times prior to his recent Open preparation. "My brother, Joel, has caddied 500 rounds out here," Putnam said. "He knows the golf course, probably every square inch of it. He's going to have some good knowledge for us . . . I saw the trophy on the 18th green last week after a practice round. I took a look at it and realized this would be the best place for me to ever win a U.S. Open, and I feel like I've got a good chance."
It's Hammer timeAt 15 years, 9 months and 21 days old when he tees off in the first round Thursday, Cole Hammer of Houston is the third-youngest player in U.S. Open history. This week, he's played with Masters champ Jordan Spieth, a fellow Texan, and practiced next to World No. 1 Rory McIlroy.
Asked about his earliest Open memory, Hammer said, "First memory I have of the U.S. Open is when Tiger won in 2008, when he did the fist pump on the 18th green [to get into the playoff]."