Armed with the fact he played in last month’s U.S. Open,
Grimmer hopes to parlay that experience into a title at this week’s U.S. Junior
at The Club at Carlton Woods’ Nicklaus Course.
“Last year, I played the U.S. Junior Amateur, but I didn’t
realize how everything here is exactly like the U.S. Open,” said Grimmer, 17,
of Cincinnati, Ohio, who was ousted in last year’s match play round of 64. “I
don’t think players here appreciate how this is literally like a U.S. Open setup,
from the way it’s conducted to the locker room to the player hospitality to how
the course is maintained.
“So I didn’t fully appreciate last year until I played at
Pinehurst this year. So, it’s awesome to get to do this and I’m thrilled to
make match play again this year. I’m playing really well, so I’ll see how far I
Thanks to a second-round, 5-under-par 67 on Tuesday, Grimmer
tied for third in stroke play, one shot back of co-medalists Sean Crocker and
Sam Horsfield. Grimmer earned the No. 4 seed in match play and faced Justin
Conant, a fellow Ohio native from Westerville, in Wednesday’s opening round.
Grimmer, a Mariemont High School senior who has committed to
Ohio State University, admits he was a bit in awe at last year’s U.S. Junior at
Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif.
“I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” said Grimmer,
who had not played in many high-level tournaments like several of his fellow
This year, only Grimmer and fellow competitor Andy Zhang (2012, Olympic Club) can say they have teed it
up in a U.S. Open. Grimmer punched his ticket to Pinehurst by shooting a
5-under-par 135 and finishing second at the sectional qualifier at Springfield
Country Club in Springfield, Ohio, on June 2.
Grimmer no doubt wanted to play well at Pinehurst No. 2, but
he also did not want to go through the week wearing blinders, so focused on
golf that he missed out on the trappings of playing on golf’s biggest stage.
“I found a happy medium,” he said.
Grimmer played practice rounds with Rickie Fowler, Kenny
Perry and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, and also had “cordial”
conversations with Matt Kuchar and several other players.
He shot 77-80—157 and missed the cut, but there was a
lifetime of takeaways. The best, though, came in the opening round.
Grimmer made his U.S. Open debut on No. 2’s second nine and
went out with a 7-over 42, carding four consecutive bogeys to close his outward
Then the fun began.
Grimmer rattled off three successive birdies on hole Nos.
1-3, playing in the jetstream of Fowler and Jordan Spieth four groupings ahead,
and Rose and Phil Mickelson two groupings ahead of them. The birdies helped him
achieve his goal of breaking 80.
“The crowds were just enormous and that was probably the
coolest stretch for me,” Grimmer said. “And hearing the crowd go, ‘Go get ’em
Will’ and hearing the ‘Go Bucks,’ because I committed to Ohio State, so that
Grimmer also came away with a belief that while he still
needs to improve his game, his game is good enough to be competitive at this
In the weeks since playing the U.S. Open, Grimmer finished
24th at the Western Junior Amateur in Flossmoor, Ill.; 32nd at the AJGA’s Rolex
Tournament of Championship in Nashville, Tenn.; and second to Andrew Dorn, who
also qualified for the U.S. Open, at the Ohio Amateur Championship.
“Coming down here this week, my expectations were that I can
contend and win this,” Grimmer said. “You can’t win it in stroke play, but I
put myself in a good position to make match play. Now I’m just looking to keep
playing well and keep doing what I’ve been doing and hopefully I can bring home
a title on Saturday.”
Wonder how that would compare to three consecutive birdies
at Pinehurst No. 2 during the U.S. Open? Only Grimmer would know.
Stuart Hall is a North
Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA