SPRINGFIELD — A smile after a chip-in birdie early in the second round showed how much more relaxed Mason Witt was at that time of day.
The 19-year-old former Greeneview High School student was well behind the leaders on Monday during Final Qualifying for the U.S. Open at Springfield Country Club, but he was already applying new learned lessons from his morning session.
“I learned how to play smart golf a lot better in a second round and just even looking around, there was a lot of pros out here and just in between shots looking at other holes and watching them to see how they handle things around here, I learned a lot of that stuff,” Witt said.
Witt came up short in his attempt to make the 122nd playing of America’s major championship after carding rounds of 81-72 for a 13-over 153 and a tie for 60th place in the 77 player field.
It wasn’t necessary the goal to actually qualify for Witt, as great as it would have been to do so he said, but rather to take in the experience and learn everything he could from it to apply to future tournaments.
“Waking up today and getting ready to come out here and play some good golf in the first round, that didn’t exactly happen,” he said. “It was rough, but the course is tricky, extremely tricky and I learned from that and played a lot better in the second round.”
Witt began the day with a birdie at the second and remained 1-under through the first four holes. Awkward lies around the greens brought bogeys at five and six though.
On the seventh hole after hitting his approach just long, his chip back toward the hole trickled ever so slowly past the hole, but it continued to roll over 100 feet until it was well off the false front portion of the green. Witt made double bogey on the hole.
“The greens were a million times faster today,” Witt said in comparison to his previous times on the course. “The pins were in every tricky spot on every hole. Normally when you play this course it’s short with a lot of wedges and it’s really not that hard. But today they sped the greens up. I mean you saw people were putting off the greens. It’s insane. I’ve done it once or twice and it happens to everyone.”
Witt appeared to be much more loose in his second 18, thanks to the rapport he shares with his caddie for the rounds, Jack Wertz, a teammate of his at Xavier University.
“We don’t like to be too serious out there,” he said. “We like to obviously have fun, but when I got to step up to a shot, obviously you have to take that seriously. In between shots, we were just kind of goofing around out there having fun, enjoying the day.”
He also got to play a few holes in practice prior to the qualifier alongside PGA Tour professionals Scott Piercy and Sam Ryder and soaked in how they approached preparation work around the greens rather than just play a normal round.
Witt still has several more tournaments this summer to go, including an Ohio Amateur qualifier for the tournament to be held at his collegiate home course of Maketewah Country Club in Cincinnati in late July.
Wertz noted to Witt’s parents watching from the gallery after his chip-in birdie, “You can’t teach that.” Witt, however, is taking many lessons from his overall experience that he’ll apply to all his future competitions.