Ryan Ressa will be on the bag for Clark Klaasen this week at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. Throughout the week, Ressa will provide a blog of their experiences at the open.
More From Monday
One of the funniest highlights of the week so far happened yesterday and I forgot to mention it last night. During our Monday practice round Clark got his first taste of being "heckled" by a New York fan. We were on our fifth hole, when out of know where a young college-aged fan started commenting on Clark's every shot. Not just to himself, but in a loud, boisterous way. You could hear this guy's comments from 100 yards away. It was pretty funny at first when this guy was comparing Clark's shots to his, a self proclaimed "30-handicap" he told us. Later on the green he also mentioned that his 95 year old grandmother chips it better than Clark. The funny thing is, Clark was hitting better shots than anyone in the group. This guy apparently took a liking to Clark and decided to comment on every shot we hit for the next 4 holes. That is until he was yelling at Clark during Justin Leonard's backswing, causing a snipe hook into the left brush on the par 4 6th (for all of you who know my golf game - the snipe hook is one of my favorites). After this comment in Leonard's backswing, the NYPD quickly quieted the guy down. We ended up chatting with him quite a bit and after he learned Clark wouldn't be phased by it, he quickly shifted his attention to my caddying, which deserves to be heckled! We later found out that after nine holes and being almost a mile from the clubhouse, this guy faked a sprained ankle to get a ride in with the medical unit. He was definitely a classic fan and one CK and I will be talking about for years to come. We also found out today that he is actually a junior at Duke! It's starting to make sense now why this kid was heckling us.
We woke early and got out to the course for a quick nine holes just after 8:00 a.m. We were scheduled to play solo, but met up with a young college golfer, Scott Lewis from UC-Santa Barbara and proceeded onto the back nine. The back nine at Bethpage starts with one of three of Bethpage's par 4's that measure over 500 yards. Coming to the 10th tee fresh off of breakfast, CK and I decided to "cold peg it". For all you non-golfers out there, "cold pegging it" is when you come straight out to the tee with no warm-up and start your round. It's not ideal, but with an early start we had already planned on a lengthy practice session following the round. Anyways, CK pegged his TaylorMade ball and ripped it down the middle with a drive that left us 230 yards into the 500-yard par 4. Our playing partner ripped a good drive and got to the fairway by 5 yards. Don't be surprised if many of the shorter hitters don't get to the fairway on 10 - especially in the damp conditions we played through today.
We played in less than 2 hours, focusing mostly on the targets off the tee, the chipping/blasting out of the greenside rough and bunker play around the greens. Clark's new 64 degree wedge is quickly becoming one of his go-to clubs around the greens. With the rough at 4-6 inches around the green and the dampness of the grass due to all the rain, an aggressive move through the ball is of the utmost importance. Any hesitation or deceleration into these shots will cause you to "flub" it or get your club stuck in the ground. The 64 degrees allows you to take bigger accelerating swings and pop the ball out softly to these tightly cut pins.
Following the round, we grabbed a quick bite to eat in the player/family dining room then set out for our practice. The practice tee was busy when we arrived just after 11 a.m. but we found a spot right next to our good friend and fellow Dukie, Ryan Blaum. We chatted with him for a while about the golf course before he headed out for his afternoon practice round.
The theme for us young guys out here is to pace yourself throughout the week. It's really easy to get wrapped up in "being there" and not focus on saving your energy for the week. Just being out there amongst all the fans and commotion can wear you out mentally. We aren't necessarily concerned with the physical fatigue, but the mental fatigue is something you can sense creeping on you after long days out there.
We hit about 75 range balls focusing on Clark's alignment and ball position. Clark has a tendency to creep in a little too close to the ball, thus causing him to come into the impact zone "steep" taking big divots. The result of this is inconsistent contact (more spin) and less than desirable distance control - two things we need locked in this week. It was a simple adjustment that had Clark feeling good about his ball striking leaving the practice range.
Clark spent the next 90 minutes hitting various wedge shots from different lies in both fairway and rough. Like I mentioned yesterday, the wedge shots after a forced lay-up are going to be a huge part of our success this week. I have never seen Clark's wedge game as sharp as it is this week and am confident that he believes in his wedges. And we all know how important confidence is in this game.
We ended our practice session on the putting green working though some of Clark's favorite drills. One focusing on his stroke, synchronizing his arms with his body and the other a speed drill. We sat on the fence over looking the putting green for a while chatting with Clark's dad, Bruce. Going over the practice for the day and the plan for the rest of the week.
Clark and I decided to take the rest of the afternoon off and go see a movie. He and I both had been itching to see the new comedy "The Hangover." It's sure to become one of our generations classics similar to Wedding Crashers and Old School. The movie was exactly what we needed to relax and get away from the constant golf all week. The last couple minutes of the movie had us practically in tears as we walked out of the theater!!! Great to see the wedding singer from Old School back in action! Funny the way comedy has evolved over the past 20 years I have been watching movies. I grew up watching comedies like Stripes, Fletch, Animal House and Blues Brothers. These new comedies have come along with the storylines, actors and content. Not always suitable for youngsters, I would definitely not recommend "The Hangover" for youngsters.
Well, that just about does it for Tuesday at the Open with Klaasen. Off to dinner at another recommended spot by the locals...This time the source is a lot more reliable!