Jun
16
2011
Behind the Scenes With Chris Wilson at His First US Open
By Stephanie Wei under Behind the Scenes

With some cajoling and arm-twisting, I managed to convince Chris Wilson, along with his caddie Blake Sattler, to provide some commentary of their first US Open with the accompanying pictures and videos taken on their cell phones. I met Chris last year when he was a PGA Tour rookie. He has the cutest dog in the world named Avery. Chris earned a spot at the US Open by firing a 36-hole total of eight-under at the Sectional qualifier in Columbus, near his hometown of Dublin, Ohio.

When I walked into the clubhouse, this was the first thing we saw (the trophy above). This is when it hit me that I was at the US Open. We thought it was cool they had it on display. It was so shiny!

Blake and I got in Sunday afternoon and headed to the golf course. We were going to play nine holes, but we were delayed due to a storm. After the bad weather past, we got in a twilight nine and caught the grounds crew, which was a pretty cool sight. There were probably about 30 people working on each hole. It was an army of mowers! So this is how they get a US Open course ready.

More mowers!

On Monday I played the back nine with Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Bud Cauley. Pretty sure the massive gallery dwindled significantly when those three showed up. Seriously, we had a fun time and I may or may not have gotten a sneak preview of their rap video.

Rickie also showed off his moves…with a golf club.

Here’s the viewpoint from the second shot on No. 9. It’s the hardest shot on the hole. You’ve got to lay up with a long iron, a butterknife. And the fairway slopes left to right. It’s imperative you’re hitting your third from the fairway. It’s tighter than tight.


That’s what the third shot on No. 9 looks like. If you’re lucky enough to be in the fairway, this short iron shot requires perfect yardage and the wind swirls. We spun a few back in the collection area because we couldn’t judge the wind right (or bad caddie yardages!). That’s what practice rounds are for. We learned the wind is tough to judge (it actually very common throughout the course).

Here now is the impressive clubhouse at Congerssional. This is the view making the turn. It’s bigger than it looks on TV. It’s crazy to think of all the players, politicians and all the important people who have hung out in the locker room (or had a duel in that hallway!).

Spotted: while leaving the golf course Monday, we came across this gem in the hay. My caddie Blake Sattler took this picture so we could have a new phone background.


See!

Our first tee shot of the tournament on Thursday. Pretty daunting. In my practice round on Tuesday, I was playing with fellow Northwestern alumni Luke Donald and he dunked it in the drink guarding the front of the green. Then I stepped up and followed suit. I turned to Luke and joked, “Must be a Northwestern thing!” Awkward silence. And then I chunked another one in the water and asked my caddie how many balls we had left.

Luke was playing really well on Tuesday. He hit fairways, solid iron shots, and of course, his short game is phenomenal.

How many maintenance workers does it take to move a US Open industrial fan (for drying out the green) on No. 13? Apparently a lot. This crew took a good 20 minutes to lift this hunk of metal and haul it off to the fan repairman (but first they transported in a gator).

No. 18 at Congo is the hardest finishing hole I’ve ever played. Wait, it’s one of the hardest holes I’ve ever played. This monster measures 523 yards. And if you make a four, it’s not a birdie. (It’s a par, FYI.) Hit it long and far off the tee. Hit it where Chris DeForest hit it and you’ll have a 9-iron into it. But for us mere mortals, we’ll be looking at a shot from 180-210, so we’ll have mid-to-long iron.

You didn’t get the phone call? We’re wearing IJP blue pants today! (Ian Poulter walked up and decided to hit balls behind Bud Cauley.) It’s electric!

It’s been exciting preparing the last few days and we’re looking forward to a great week at Congressional, my first major. Seacrest, out.

Fondly,
@TheRealCWilson and @BlakeSattler

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P.P.S. Dear USGA, please water the greens this week.