When 17-year-old amateur Beau Hossler curled in a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 1 at Olympic Club on Friday, he couldn't help but sneak a peek at the second-round U.S. Open leader board.
The first name, one spot ahead of major champions Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk: Beau Hossler.
"It was pretty special," said the high school senior from Orange County, flashing a smile full of braces. "I saw my name at 2 under, and the rest of the guys were at 1 under."
Hossler, who started his round on the ninth hole, pumped his fist when he birdied the 510-yard par-4, capping a sensational stretch in which he played his first 11 holes at 2 under to take the lead.
But his fame lasted only 15 minutes. Hossler bogeyed No. 2 and staggered through the rest of Olympic Club's brutal front nine, going 5 over par in his next five holes. He finished with a 73, which dropped him to 3 over but still kept him within four strokes of leaders Woods, Furyk and David Toms.
"Nothing he does surprises me," said Bill Schullenberg, Hossler's godfather and caddie. "He is that good. I've seen him play a lot of golf with a lot of tour guys, and I know how consistent he is and his ability to manipulate the golf ball. Beau belongs out here. There's no doubt in my mind."
Hossler followed his opening-round 70 with seven consecutive pars before a birdie on No. 17 brought him into a tie for the lead with Woods, Furyk and first-round leader Michael Thompson at 1 under. Two
After the round, Hossler was asked how he would react if someone told him a 17-year-old could lead the U.S. Open.
"I'd probably tell them they're nuts," said Hossler, who missed the cut at the U.S. Open last year.
The feat made Woods recall playing in the 1996 U.S. Open as a 20-year-old amateur at Oakland Hills. Woods tied for the lead in the first round by flying out to 3 under through 14, but he finished with a 76.
"I kind of experienced that myself at Oakland Hills," Woods said. "I grabbed the lead in the first round but made a few mistakes. I think he made a few mistakes as well."
The U.S. Open finally got to the 17-year-old from Santa Margarita High on the front nine when he missed the next five fairways, as well as his final five greens.
"I'm sure nerves had to affect him at some point," Schullenberg said. "Those tee shots he hit on Nos. 4 and 5 were so unlike him. He's just a laser."
Hossler bogeyed No. 2, double-bogeyed No. 4 and added two more bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6 to fall from 2 under to 3 over. Hossler chipped in from about 25 feet on No. 7 for birdie but failed to save par out of a bunker on No. 8 and finished his round tied for ninth.