He’ll have a chance to start proving himself today when the
California teen and 63 other survivors begin the match-play portion of the
championship on the Highlands Course at AAC. Hossler, 19, of Mission Viejo,
Calif., meets Jon Rahm of Spain at 11:30 a.m. EDT in the first round of
Hossler should be filled with confidence. He is coming off a
summer that included not only his victory in the Western Amateur, but also
runner-up finishes at the Porter Cup and the California Amateur. A two-time
Southern California Am champion, Hossler is on a bit of a roll coming into his
fourth U.S. Amateur.
“I guess the summer, just both in the California Amateur and
the Western, I've learned that I'm a good match-play player,” he said. “Before
that, I had not had much success, but I think I'm like 9-1 or something this
year in match play, so that's pretty good.”
Hossler has proven pretty good in big tournaments before.
There was that little event two years ago near San Francisco in which he led
for a brief time in the second round before finishing tied for 29th. You’ve
probably heard of it. That was at The Olympic Club in the 112th U.S. Open,
eventually won by Webb Simpson. Hossler, then 17 years old, caused quite a
stir, becoming the youngest player to make the cut in the national championship
since World War II and then jumping onto the leader board on Saturday.
That was a magical week for Hossler. But, having played golf
since he was 8 years old, he’s fully cognizant of the fact that it’s difficult
to sustain form.
“Golf is a game of peaks and valleys no matter who you are,
whether you are Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy. It’s hard to sustain your top form
all year-round,” he said.
But the U.S. Open was a nice peak.
“Yeah, good timing. Once you play well in an event like that,
people expect you to play well for years to come, and I’m not going to put
those expectations on myself, because you can’t go out there every week and get
the most out of your round.
“The only expectations I feel are the ones on myself,” he
Which gets back to his expectations at AAC. Hossler, whose
best showing in this championship is advancing to the round of 32 in 2011, is
simply a different golfer now, not only after a year at the University of
Texas, but also with the work he has done after leaving Jim Flick and working
with Adam Porzak, who runs his own academy in San Diego.
Though there haven’t been any drastic changes to his swing, Hossler
said he has “worked out a few kinks,” getting the club out in front of him more
and controlling his trajectory, previously one of his weaknesses. But it’s his
short game that has lifted him to a new level. After his Western victory, he
didn’t touch a club for five days except to work on chipping.
He said he is a more complete player, good in any format, which
is what the U.S. Amateur requires. Match play is upon him now, and he looks
forward to the challenge with great belief in what he can accomplish.
“I just have gotten more confident as a player, match-play
player. It's a different game but at the same time, it's the same game,” he
said. “You have to go out there and if you make good scores on holes, you're
going to win holes. If you make bad scores, you're going to lose. I'm really
impressed with the way that I've handled myself down the stretch. I've played
some really good golf when I needed to at crucial moments, which has been great
for my confidence, really big birdie putts, and up-and-downs, my short game
this summer has been really good.
“I just have to let my game come out and I believe that I’ll
Dave Shedloski is an
Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on usga.org and