June 18, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas – Zack Fischer didn't make the cut in his first U.S. Open, but two rounds at Merion Golf Club opened his eyes to the type of golfer the 2011 UT Arlington graduate wants to become.
"I need to get much tougher mentally and physically," Fischer said. "The course was really hard and if you hit it in the rough, you needed to chip out and when you didn't chip out, you were really asking for trouble. Unbelievable golf course with very difficult conditions was a really awesome and difficult experience."
Fischer became only the second former UT Arlington golfer to compete in a U.S. Open, joining Greg Gregory. Fischer shot 82-76 at a course where no one shot par for the week. The struggles at Merion don't erase what's already been a breakthrough season for Fischer, who made the cut at HP Byron Nelson Championship in May to earn his first PGA Tour paycheck.
Fischer, 23, earned a spot in the Nelson field in a Monday qualifier. He battled his way into the U.S. Open by besting tour veteran Ryan Palmer in a 12-hole sudden-death playoff at a sectional qualifier in Dallas. As intense as the playoff just to get into the Open was, the actual championship was pressure at the sport's highest level.
"It humbles you on how good you actually are," said Fischer, a member of the 2011 Southland Conference championship team and 2009 SLC individual medalist. "I didn’t play that poorly. I was just flustered mentally after making some bogeys and doubles. Then I really started panicking and made more mistakes. The USGA really got what they wanted when it came to my mental game."
UT Arlington coach Jay Rees attended the U.S. Open as Fischer's short game coach.
"He did not make the putts to get momentum going," Rees said. "It was a learning experience, but I was very proud to see home compete in our national championship. I told him, 'This road touring is a marathon. Your best golf is ahead. Just focus on the good things and when you have a great putting week you will win.'
"Merion is the toughest course I've ever seen. It doesn't get any tougher than that."
Fischer left the U.S. Open ready to get back at it, at whatever course or tournament that may be.
"I'm not sure what's in store," he said, "but I do know I am going to be chasing the last of the Monday qualifiers."
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