Notebook: Phelan Gains Experience at U.S. Open July 15, 2010 By Stuart Hall

Kevin Phelan took it all in at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links in June. The 19-year-old played rounds with Trevor Immelman, Jim Furyk, Ben Curtis, Retief Goosen and Padraig Harrington. (USGA/Robert Walker)

Greensboro, N.C. — From a statistical position, there were few positives Kevin Phelan could take away from his first U.S. Open appearance last month. An opening-round 83 dashed any hope of a Cinderella story.

From an experience standpoint, Phelan, 19, of St. Augustine, Fla., could fill a notebook with tidbits gleaned from major winners Trevor Immelman, Jim Furyk, Ben Curtis, Retief Goosen and Padraig Harrington — all of whom Phelan played with at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Apparently Phelan is a quick study, as he used his new-found wisdom to advance to the quarterfinals at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship here at Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center. 

I think it just made me look at everything like it’s not as important, said Phelan of the U.S. Open. Not that it’s not important, but I think I was putting too much on myself in the tournament. They’re just so relaxed out there and that’s the name of the game, you have to relax to play well. That’s the main thing I took from [the appearance].

Phelan, a rising sophomore at the University of North Florida, shot 71-73–144 to tie for 24th in the APL’s 36-hole stroke-playing qualifying. In advancing to Friday morning’s quarterfinal match against Wesley Graham of Port Orange, Fla., Phelan was 4-under through 51 holes, allowing for the usual match play concessions.

Phelan, who owns dual citizenship in the USA and Ireland, especially studied the games of Furyk and Curtis, both of whom manage their games well despite not being extremely long hitters.

I’m like that, said Phelan, who was born in New York City and lived in Ireland from age 3 until age 12. I don’t hit the ball that far. The main thing I learned from them is just stay within yourself, play your own game and forget about the rest of them.

Phelan also learned not to over-practice prior to the event. Curtis, for exampled, played nine holes each of the three days prior to the first round. Following suit, Phelan played two nine-hole practice rounds prior to the start of stroke play on Monday.


Scratch Another One Off Her Bucket List

Being a standard bearer is not an item generally found on bucket lists. Dot Lambeth, though, can scratch that one off hers.

She said she had always wanted to do it, said Chris LeClerc, head golf professional at Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center, host of this week’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

When a recent mailing went out to volunteers stating there was a need in various areas, including standard bearers, Lambeth did not hesitate responding. Now if Lambeth were in her 20s or 30s … OK, maybe her 50s, possibly 60s, that’s one thing.

But 81?

They never asked my age, Lambeth said.

Maybe so, but the name caught LeClerc’s attention.

When I saw she had signed up, a red flag immediately went up, said LeClerc, who has known Lambeth for a number of years. I immediately called and asked if she was sure, and if she knew exactly what they did. She said yes.

LeClerc tried talking Lambeth out of such a role, stressing that the Champions Course, especially on a hot and humid afternoon, could become a good walk very spoiled.

I figured this would be my last chance, said Lambeth of nearby Browns Summit, who, on average, plays three times a week and keeps a 20 handicap. I knew it would be a long walk, but I like to keep myself feeling young.

In the first round of match play Wednesday, Lambeth was assigned the day’s 15th match, 10:48 a.m., Joon Heui Lee vs. Jon Veneziano. Both very nice young men, she said.

Loaded with a bib, black numbers and a standard, Lambeth was all set to go. LeClerc was still concerned, so he asked teenager Josh Becton to follow Lambeth and take over if she tired.

The front side is a little bit easier to walk, she said, but they kept asking if I needed help and I kept saying ‘No, I’m fine.

She kept herself hydrated, drinking three bottles of water. More important, she never wavered in a match that Lee won, 2 and 1.

Oh it was a lot of fun, Lambeth said. I’m so glad I got the opportunity.

When the round was over, LeClerc said, the live scorer who held a small handheld device throughout the round walked into the Volunteer Headquarters wringing wet.

He said ‘That about killed me. She’s an animal,’ said LeClerc, who said other bearers much younger than Lambeth needed assistance.

When the day was complete, Lambeth said she felt fine and slept really well that night. And her bucket list was minus one more item.

Stuart Hall is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.