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US Open

Last entrant in US Open field takes advantage of opportunity, shoots 69


Jackson Suber felt the nerves building as he stepped up for his opening tee shot in his first U.S. Open

Jackson Suber hits from the native area on the 14th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open.
Jackson Suber hits from the native area on the 14th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open.

The 24-year-old alternate who got a call-up due to Jon Rahm's withdrawal didn't show much worry after that, even on this unexpectedly big stage.

Suber finished 1-under 69 in Thursday's first round at Pinehurst No. 2, sitting just four shots back of co-leaders Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy. He finished with five birdies on the afternoon, quite a debut for a player who went from being lined up to play in the Korn Ferry Tour's Wichita Open to the last entrant in a major.

"I'm sure I'm pretty tired right now," Suber said. "I don't know if I feel it. The first hole when I got up there, I was really nervous. And after the bogey on two, I kind of settled in a little bit. ... And then it started to feel like a normal golf tournament."

Suber arrived at Pinehurst on Sunday for practice rounds, though he had a flight booked to Wichita for Wednesday morning and remained uncertain whether he would depart. But Rahm withdrew Tuesday because of a foot injury, opening the door for Suber — ranked 239th in the world and 44th on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Suber had earned nearly $372,000 during his career, but has failed to make the cut in both PGA Tour events he has played.

He sat at 2-under after 13 holes before back-to-back bogeys, including a missed short putt on 15, to fall back to even. Yet he followed with a birdie on 16 to regroup, then tapped in for par on 18 to close the afternoon.

"I always believed I could do this," Suber said. "You never know if you're actually going to do it. But I feel like I always knew that was in me."

Neal Shipley finished his college career at Ohio State and is ready to take the next step. Just not right now.

He was exempt to the U.S. Open as the runner-up in the U.S. Amateur last summer. But unlike the winner, Nick Dunlap, Shipley had to remain an amateur to play in the U.S. Open. And he wasn't willing to give that up.

"We talked about it, but the experience, that's really what we're after right now," Shipley said after opening with an even-par 70. "It would be great to get a check this week, make a cut. At the end of the day, I want to guarantee that I get that experience out here."

Shipley already has a major experience. He played the final round with Tiger Woods at the Masters and was low amateur.

His next start is expected to be on the PGA Tour Americas in Canada. The purse is $225,000.

British Amateur champion Christo Lamprecht also was exempt for the U.S. Open. He chose to turn pro, went through qualifying and missed out.

"It's a marathon really. It's not a sprint," Shipley said. "So what happens here this week and the next nine months, it's not going to define my professional career. I know there's a lot of good golf ahead of me. I don't feel the need to press my luck qualifying."