golfer and Mequon native Jordan Niebrugge kicks his leg
out Tuesday afternoon as he watches his putt attempt on
the No. 8 green slow down during his practice round for
the 117th U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills in the
town of Erin.
>>VIDEO: Jordan Niebrugge tees off, Day 1 of tournament
John Ehlke/Daily News
OF ERIN — If there are nerves, Jordan Niebrugge isn’t
showing them. Yet.
Being one of just two state golfers to participate in
Wisconsin’s first U.S. Open? The Mequon-raised Niebrugge
smiles, and notes it’s special.
about the honor of hitting the first tee shot of the
Open, which takes place at 6:45 a.m. today?
special as well, but Niebrugge seemed a little more
excited about playing his first two rounds with fellow
Oklahoma State University alumni Kevin Dougherty and
Talor Gooch. Homestead head boys golf coach Steve
O’Brien said the demeanor is a calculated approach, an
effort to keep things as close to businesslike as
possible as Niebrugge participates in his fourth major.
“Every experience is only going to help him calm the
nerves,” O’Brien said Tuesday as Niebrugge walked up and
down the ropes near the 18th green, signing much of the
memorabilia thrust at him as he made his way off the
his well-wishers have been out here and continue to come
out, but we’re going to let him go about his business
and try to make the cut.”
Niebrugge signs an Erin Hills flag for a fan Tuesday
after walking off the green of hole No. 9 to conclude
his practice round.
John Ehlke/Daily News
is the biggest key for the Homestead graduate.
tied for sixth at the 2015 Open Championship, with his
11-under-par 277 going into the record books as the
lowest score by an amateur in the history of the fabled
tournament. He missed the cut at the 2016 British Open,
and hopes his latest opportunity catapults him through
not only four rounds, but eventual qualifying for the
“It’s a good experience to look back on, especially when
you’re coming out to these majors,” Niebrugge said of
his British Open rounds. “It’s good to look back on and
know you belong.”
Niebrugge tied for 34th at the PGA Tour Canda’s Bayview
Place Cardtronics Open prior to coming home. He placed
second at the PGA Tour Canada’s Freedom 55 Financial
Open the week before that, then earned a sectional
qualifier spot in the Tacoma, Washington, tying for
Before that, he tied for third during the local
qualifier at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan.
“That ‘jump through the ceiling’ feeling,” O’Brien said
as he described getting Niebrugge’s text after the
“Elation for him; so happy because of all the time and
effort he’s put in,” the coach added. “He’s meant so
much to our golf program at Homestead and the school and
community in general. It’s someone we can rally around
and cheer for him, because he’s such a great kid.”
Niebrugge called each qualification step a grind. He
claimed comfort in having experience at Erin Hills —
he’s played it more than 10 times, including earning a
2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship qualifier
win and tying for fourth at the 2015 Erin Hills
Intercollegiate hosted by Marquette University.
“Getting to play out here is just a great opportunity,”
he added. “Being comfortable with the course and being
comfortable with (my playing partners), and getting off
to a good start, is the key thing Thursday.”
Niebrugge’s qualification for the 2013 Publick Links led
to a victory at the tournament, the second of four
consecutive amateur wins that year — the Wisconsin Match
Play Championship, the Publinx, the Wisconsin State
Amateur and the Western Amateur. Niebrugge’s rise up the
statewide scene also included victories at the 2012
Wisconsin State Open and the 2012 WIAA State
Championships; he is one of just two golfers to win the
6-foot-4 former Highlander’s rise through the state and
ensuing push has caught the eye of Wisconsin’s other
golf notables, Andy North and Steve Stricker.
“He’s in that next wave of really talented, young
players,” Stricker said Tuesday at a news conference.
“He’s got the body shape, the club-head speed of this
new generation of how these kids play. And that’s hit it
a long ways.
“I’ve played with him a few times, and he impresses me a
lot. I keep trying to think if I had that length and
talent like that how much fun that would be to hit it 30
yards further than what I do now.”
of Stricker’s compliment, Niebrugge laughed.
wish I had (Stricker’s) wedge game, and his putting,”
Niebrugge joked. “Maybe we’d make good bestball
partners, scramble partners.
“That’s pretty cool to hear that from him. ... It’s
pretty cool to have him speak highly of me.”
North noted Monday “it will be fun to see” Niebrugge’s
first tee shot tomorrow, adding the Wisconsinite is on a
“nice progression” and just needs to become more
an effort to do so, Niebrugge noted his three practice
rounds were all about doing homework — catching up on
new tweaks, rediscovering lines off the tees and getting
a general feeling - out of the course itself.
“It’s pretty special, being my first Open,” Niebrugge
said. “It’s been one of my goals for a while now, ever
since five or six years ago when the USGA put it in
place. Being able to get the opportunity to play out
here, it’s pretty cool.”