US Open leaderboard full of unknown players


BROOKLINE, Mass. — Who are these guys?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of Callum Tarren, MJ Daffue, Hayden Buckley, Matthew NeSmith and David Lingmerth.

Those five players — hardly household names in golf — are near the top of the leaderboard after Thursday’s U.S. Open first round at The Country Club. Tarren, Daffue and Lingmerth are tied for second place at 3-under par following opening round 67s. Buckley and NeSmith are 2-under par.

“I’m kind of pinching myself,’’ said the 31-year-old Tarren, who’s from England, ranked 445th in the world and got into the field though sectional qualifying. “Just excited with my start, and let’s see what the next few days holds.’’

Tarren’s journey was interrupted when his clubs never made it to Boston after he played in the Canadian Open last week.

“I got here, no clubs,” he said. “There was five other players on my flight. They all got golf clubs. So, it was the second U.S. Open I’ve played in and second time no golf clubs.”

Little-known Callen Tarum of England shot a first-round 67 at the U.S. Open.
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Tarren also qualified for the 2019 Pebble Beach Open, shooting 73-75 to miss the cut and never got his clubs that week until Wednesday.

Daffue, a South African who’s ranked 296th in the world and plays on the Korn Ferry Tour, said he’s toughened himself by playing in a lot of Monday qualifiers to get into events.

“What did I do — 12 out of my last 20 Monday qualifiers [and got in]?’’ Daffue said. “It really taught me to make a lot of birdies. I’ve translated that into my game. Overall pressure when you don’t have any status and you are playing a Monday qualifier, that’s a lot more pressure because you know you’ve got to go shoot 6-under par just to have a chance.

“I’ve really tried to come into this week not putting too much pressure on myself.’’

Lingmerth got into the field as an alternate when Martin Kaymer withdrew with an injury.

“What can I say?’’ he said. “I don’t know. Got off to one of those starts, I guess, where just trying to take care of the golf ball. U.S. Open golf, everybody really has to dig deep and fight, and inevitably something bad might happen, and you’ve just got to stay strong and rebound from it. I love this. I love these events. … The grind isn’t always fun, but this is amazing.’’

MJ Daffue shot a 3-under 67 in the first round of the U.S. Open.
MJ Daffue shot a 3-under 67 in the first round of the U.S. Open.

Jordan Spieth, who was a question mark to play Thursday after reportedly having a stomach bug earlier in the week that limited his practice, played and shot a 2-over 72. Golf Channel reported that Spieth hit just three balls on the range on Tuesday, and played very little after that.

Fran Quinn, the 57-year-old Massachusetts resident who got into the field via local and sectional qualifying, shot 76. Quinn, playing in his fifth U.S Open, is the oldest player to advance through local and final qualifying in at least the past 40 years. The next closest is Wes Short Jr., who was 52 when he made it to Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club in 20.

Matthew Fitpatrick, who won the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club, is in contention after one round after shooting 68.

“I’ve tried to have no expectations coming into this week,’’ Fitzpatrick said. “I just want to enjoy the week, having obviously played so well here nine years ago. I’ve got great memories of the place, and the whole time I’ve been out, I see shots that I hit and I see the places I was. I think because of that I’m a bit more at ease.

“I’m just trying not to put any pressure on myself. It’s a golf course I know I can do well around, and I’m just trying to enjoy it.’’

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