- In his 33 years, Jeff Bors had never been to California before. There just wasn't any reason to go - no family on the west coast, no job relocation, nothing. Then came this week, and frankly, he couldn't think of a better reason to go than to play in the 108th U.S. Open.
At the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier played at Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, NY, Bors, a second-year assistant golf pro at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, shot a two-over par 142 to earn one of four bids in the Open field.
Bors carded rounds of 81 and 79 to finish his two-day turn at Torrey Pines at 18 over par. The score left him well back of the cut, which was made at +7.
After three days of practicing every possible scenario on every inch of Torrey Pines South Golf Course in San Diego, Bors said after a Wednesday practice round that the awe has worn off. Now, it's business as usual.
"It's incredible to be around all the guys that you watch on TV every week, the guys you see do a lot of amazing things on the golf course," Bors said. "The respect factor is very high, and at the same time, it's golf. We all have a big test ahead of us. We're all going to be driving as hard as we can all week. It's an amazing test out there."
Bors shot an opening-round 81 in his first ever PGA Tour event.
"I have to stay within myself, take my time and keep things simple no matter how tough the golf course is," Bors added. "If I play my game and I can do those things, I'm not going to have any regrets."
One day after his birthday and a day before his second wedding anniversary, the Chardon, OH, native, competed against 64 others at Old Oaks with four wild card spots in the 156-player Open field. A round of 72 left him in a seventh-place tie half-way through the 36-hole tournament. Bors then carded a 70 in the afternoon to enter the clubhouse at +2 overall. The aggregate score was good for second place, three shots behind Kevin Silva (-1), even with Yohann Benson and a shot ahead of Mike Gilmore (+3). All four are taking on the world's best, including Tiger Woods
, Phil Mickelson
and Vijay Singh, at one of the nation's most famous courses.
"I'm really trying to make the most of the opportunity," Bors said prior to taking on Torrey Pines. "I'm working hard to approach it like any other golf tournament. The golf course has been as good a test as I've ever played by a long shot."
And that's coming from a man who has more than once tackled Shinnecock, site of the 1986, 1995 and 2004 U.S. Open. Before becoming a club pro, Bors was an All-Ohio Athletic Conference player at John Carroll University in Cleveland. He came to Shinnecock by way of a two-year stint at Federica Golf Club in St. Simons Island, GA. Bors said that playing out west "is a huge adjustment" and that the wind changes from stroke to stroke affect the way the ball flies. Also working against him is his full-time workload because he, unlike his Open counterparts, "can't hit wedge shots for eight hours a day."
Not only is Bors surrounded by the game's greats, but also family and friends that made the trip west for Bors' first-ever PGA Tour event. He's excited about having the support group around him, as well as a 24-hour window between the end of round one and the beginning of round two Friday.
"It's going to be great," Bors said. "I'll go into Friday fresh and with a good perspective on how they're going to set up the golf course. If I can play a solid round of golf tomorrow, I love my chances. I've worked hard and I feel good."