It all happened so fast.
Tyler McMorrow birdied the final three holes to win a qualifying tournament last month to advance to the U.S. Amateur Championship, the most prestigious tournament in the country for those who don’t regulary cash checks playing the game.
He finished his round and looked at the scoreboard. He saw his 36-hole score of 139 was tied for low, but there were other groups that had yet to finish.
“The next thing you know, someone was saying that I’m in,” said McMorrow, who will be a senior at Gustavus Adolphus. “I didn’t know what to think; I was at a loss for words. It was amazing. I had never qualified for anything like that.”
Next week, McMorrow will compete in the 113th U.S. Amateur, which will be played at The Country Club at Brookline, Mass., the oldest country club in the U.S. The Country Club has hosted several major events, including the 1999 Ryder Cup and 1998 U.S. Open.
McMorrow, who is from St. Cloud, is too young to have memories of those events, but he’s old enough to use Google to find out about the history of the tournament and the course.
“I’ve heard a lot about it,” McMorrow said. “I’ve seen highlights from those (events). I’m starting to get a feel for the history, and it’s going to be pretty cool to play there for at least a couple days.”
McMorrow said the first week after the qualifier was weird, as he started to realize what he had accomplished, heard from a lot of friends and family and started to make travel arrangements. He’s trying to prepare his game, but he doesn’t want to practice too much and risk burnout or injury.
Because of schedule conflicts, McMorrow didn’t try to qualify for the Minnesota amateur or the state open tournaments so he hasn’t played a lot of high-level golf this summer. He had a good season at Gustavus, finishing fifth at the NCAA Division III tournament in May.
He leaves today and will get practice rounds Saturday and Sunday, with the tournament starting Monday. After two rounds of medal play, the field will be cut to 64 for match play, and the winner will be crowned Sunday in a nationally televised 36-hole match.
His parents, grandparents, brother and girlfriend are traveling to the tournament, and former Gustavus teammate Trevor Gervais will again caddy for McMorrow, who has had plenty of offers to carry the bag.
“Trevor and I make a pretty good team,” he said. “I tend to be too aggressive, and he calms me down a little bit.”
This tournament has produced champions such as Tiger Woods, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Phil Mickelson, and while McMorrow isn’t making victory his goal, it’s still cool to dream about what could happen.
“I’m just going out there to enjoy myself and soak it all in,” he said. “No matter how I do, I want to say I did the best I could and enjoyed doing it.
“The first goal is to make it to the final 64, and then it’s match play. One player, one round ... anything can happen.”
“Anything” already has happened.
Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.