Brandon McIver is possibly having the most eventful finals week of any University of Oregon student. Yesterday he played eighteen-holes with the 2010 PGA Tour Player of the Year, Jim Furyk, and today completed a practice session with Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker. Those names may sound familiar. Haas was the leader after the opening round at The Masters this year and Snedeker currently ranks 33rd in the world. All that has led to some obvious excitement and restless nights. He got just five hours of sleep last night.
“It’s a stressful event,” his coach Casey Martin said. “Your emotions are tempered with the excitement and joy with a little bit of fear of playing in the US Open. But that’s part of the challenge as a player to rise to that occasion.”
The 285th ranked amateur in the world will try to take the advice of his coach in the sleep category the next couple days, before his 8:46 a.m. (ET) tee time this Thursday.
He took the time Tuesday to speak with the media about everything from the idea of representing his home state of Montana, to playing alongside the best golfers in the world.
From after the US Open Sectional at the Emerald Valley Golf course, the feeling of disappointment, to now, what have your emotions been like after hearing that you would have the opportunity to play in the US Open?
“After a night of sleeping it off I was fine. It’s competitive golf, that’s what happens, it’s a part of the sport. But obviously I was pretty thrilled to hear that I got a spot in the field.”
Were you surprised by that or did you kind of do the math and think there was a chance?
“We had been doing the math and checking the scores from the various tournaments so we knew there was a chance but I wasn’t trying to get my hopes up. I wanted to be realistic about the situation. So for it to happen, I’m very fortunate.”
Was this a situation where you were prepared to play or did you sort of have to scramble and fly out to Pinehurst?
“My plans to come out here were set. It was just a matter if guys in various tournaments were going to earn enough points to jump their world ranking into the top 60 at the weekend so not enough guys did and those spots that were empty went to the alternates.”
As an amateur how do you approach being in a setting such as this?
“It’s pretty incredible to be out here with all these guys you see on TV and see it all in person. But for me, it got pretty real just teeing up on my first practice round. You’re in now and you have nothing to lose but you don’t want to come here and put your tail between your legs. You want to compete and do the best you can. It’s a hard golf course and it’s not going to play easy.”
Who have you been around and interacting with, what kind of big name golfers, and how cool of an experience has that been for you?
“I played eighteen yesterday with Jim Furyk and he was awesome. He talked to me the whole round and was just super supportive. Today I played with Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker for eighteen and they both were awesome guys. Bill and I talked about some certain shots around the greens and what the right play to hit and what club to take and lines to take. Just certain outcomes. Bill couldn’t have been a better guy. Snedeker played really well today, his game looks really good.”
Your coach Casey Martin has obviously played in a few US Opens. Any piece of advice he’s given you this week?
“Yeah. He’s said this throughout my time at Oregon, ‘you don’t have to be perfect, be steady and not force anything because when you start forcing things and letting your emotions take over and being emotional basically, you make bad decisions.’ If you play your game, you’re likely to have a better chance at succeeding.”
Are you proud to represent the state of Montana?
I’ve receive a ridiculous amount of support from my friends, family and people I don’t even know in Montana. So many texts and phone calls just wishing me luck and that they are happy that I can represent the state. I take pride in that. I’m happy I can represent Montana in a good way.
Have you had time to think about this run you’ve been on?
“I’ve definitely thought about it. From Stanford on, everywhere we’ve played are world class golf courses. It’s prepared me for this course. Like Casey has told me, ‘you’ve played at a lot of difficult golf courses and Pinhurst is going to be tough, but you’ve been prepared and don’t be intimidated by it.’ The run of golf I’ve had is like something I’ve never experienced before.”
Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JWISE25