SOUTHAMPTON, NEW YORK | Despite having just signed for a first-round 92 in the windswept U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Thursday, 23-year-old Englishman Scott Gregory was actually smiling.
And not just because it was over, at least until Friday.
“Everyone has bad days,” the 2016 British Amateur champion said. “You look at Tiger and Rory and all those. They all struggle occasionally. You know you can do it. I qualified last week so I can’t be that bad.”
For the record, Gregory’s score was the highest in the U.S. Open since Felix Casas shot 92 at Bethpage Black in 2002. That obviously wasn’t Casas’ finest hour but here we are 16 years later talking about him.
So there’s that.
When was the last time Gregory turned in an 18-hole score that started with a nine?
“I can’t remember,” he said. “Probably at least eight years ago.”
Where was it?
“I would imagine it would be on a links course because you can easily do it and this is playing very linksy. It’s been a long time and this is not the week I wanted to revisit that score,” Gregory said.
Gregory said he never surrendered at Shinnecock Hills, despite making 10 bogeys, three double bogeys and two triple bogeys. Even as he played the 18th hole Thursday, Gregory was trying to make a birdie to use it as an emotional springboard to Friday.
Alas, he made one final bogey.
“My aim really was just to hit it in the middle of the green every hole. You can’t miss it long, short, left or right. If you hit it in the middle you’re all right. Every hole I was trying to hit it in the fairway and didn’t do that. From there, chip it out and get it in the middle of the green,” he said.
Where does he go from here?
“I’ve shot quite a high number today. If I can shoot something par or better and just take something positive from the week,” Gregory said.
“I’d rather not go for it again.”
Regardless of what he shoots Friday, Gregory has already scored a big win this week. He had a photo taken with Tiger Woods on the practice tee Wednesday.
“I’ve been waiting for that picture for about 15 years so it’s quite a big deal,” Gregory said.
“It’s actually framed in my locker. If I catch him I’ll try and get him to sign it. I’ve got one of me with Jack Nicklaus at the Memorial last year. Get them side by side would be pretty cool.”
A happy memory from Shinnecock.