professional golfer and Wisconsin native Steve Stricker
signs autographs for fans Monday afternoon during the
practice rounds for the 117th U.S. Open Championship at
Erin Hills in the Town of Erin.
John Ehlke/Conley News
TOWN OF ERIN — At 34, Aaron Jinkerson, a native of
Wentzville, Missouri, about 45 minutes west of St.
Louis, is finally doing something he’s waited 22 years
to do: attend one of professional golf’s four majors.
Jinkerson will cross off this bucket list item by
attending the 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills
“I’ve always wanted to go to a major,” Jinkerson said.
saw his opportunity to fulfill that wish when he saw an
ad during the telecast of the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont
in Pennsylvania, promoting the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin
“The fact that it’s being played on a public course is
pretty cool,” Jinkerson said. “Being a golf fan, you
don’t see a major (course that) anyone can play. It’s
an extent, he’s right.
Public courses have hosted the U.S. Open, but Erin Hills
is only the sixth one to do so since the championship
was first held in 1895 in Rhode Island.
Yes, it is the U.S. Open, but the championship will
bring fans from nearby, such as Duane Kreuziger of
Allenton, Gary Schwefel of Lebanon and Jeff Steliga of
Menomonee Falls, and afar, including Tyler Esquivel of
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and Tanya Tressel of
Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, Canada.
dad and I are big golf fans. He got me into playing the
sport when I was just 4 or 5 years old, so I’ve grown up
with the game,” Esquivel said. “Back in 2009, we went to
the PGA Championship at Hazeltine in Minnesota and
really enjoyed the experience. Ever since then, we’ve
wanted to take in all four majors.”
professional golfer J.T. Poston watches his shot attempt
on the driving range in the midst of a crowd of other
golfers Monday morning during the practice rounds for
the 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills.
John Ehlke/Conley News
gift for Father’s Day
There is another reason Esquivel is attending this
“The specific reason we’re coming to the U.S. Open is
because my mom, sister and I decided to surprise my dad
with tickets for his birthday and Father’s Day,”
Esquivel said. “Back in March, I bought the tickets and
we surprised him on his birthday (March 12) with a card
and little video I made. My dad was in a little bit of
shock when we told him. He didn’t really know what to
think. I think he was a little overwhelmed.”
Tressel said, “I’m really looking forward to everything
as this will be my first professional golf tournament.
I’m very excited to see the players in person and have a
great golf fan experience.”
it’s not just fans from all over the world coming to
Erin Hills. More than 230 media outlets from around the
globe are credentialed for the championship.
Some of the national media outlets include the Boston
Globe, the Boston Herald and the Dallas Morning News.
International media outlets include The Associated Press
of Australia, Canal Plus France, Canal Plus Spain, Golf
Australia magazine, Golf Today Japan, Jiji Press
(Japan), L’Equipe Journal du Golf (France), Norsk Golf
(Norway), Scottish Daily Record and Sankei Sports
“It’s awesome,” Steliga said. “We went to the PGA
(Championship) two years ago (at Whistling Straits) and
it was awesome.
“But this course is nicer. It’s contoured differently.
The fairways are wider.”
there was another reason why Steliga is excited for the
U.S. Open: its proximity.
“It’s 17 miles from my house,” he said with a smile.
Steliga said attending a championship so close to his
house makes the U.S. Open at Erin Hills feel different.
“This seems bigger,” Steliga said. “I can’t explain it.
“The PGA was the first major I ever went to. This is the
second. Now I should make it my mission to go to the
because it is so close to his house, that’s why he
bought a Trophy Club ticket for the entire week, rather
than one of two days, a practice round and the final
round, like he did for the 2015 PGA Championship.
“That was enjoyable,” Steliga said. “But this is more
enjoyable. Having this here is really important for golf
in the area.”
Speaking of enjoyable, it was hard to wipe the smile off
the face of 7year-old James Sorenson of Appleton.
Sprinting from the practice green near the first tee
box, Sorenson hollered for his father, Eric, eager to
show him who just signed his hat: Jordan Spieth.
want to get as many autographs I can,” James said.
that’s part of the thrill for the U.S. Open being where
it is. For many, it is the first time people will see
Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and others
in person. That was part of the reason Schwefel bought a
practice round ticket for Monday. He spent most of his
day sitting in the top row of one of the grandstands
overlooking the first tee box.
After all, it wasn’t a big obstacle. He lives 12 miles
from the course. On top of that, he used to drive by the
course everyday when he used to live in Richfield and on
his way to work in Dodge County.
and my wife, we went up and down this road a thousand
times,” Schwefel said. “Never dreamed we’d see something
like this that close to home.
“This is really something. I had to see it.”
Jinkerson, a sixth-grade science teacher and the varsity
golf coach at Warrenton High School in Missouri, is
staying in West Bend while in town for the championship.
want to see the big names,” he said. “I’m hoping to see
Phil (Mickelson) play.”