What’s perhaps the most compelling story to come out of the Valero Texas
snooze-fest Open has gone widely unnoticed, but thanks to Shoshana for bringing it to my attention. John Huh, the Q-school grad who captured the Mayakoba Golf Classic, shot a dreadful eight-over 44 in his opening nine holes on Thursday, but 45 holes later, he’s in contention.
He could have quit then (if you look down the leaderboard, you’ll notice more WDs than usual — most of the guys had 3 or 4 holes left when play was suspended due to darkness on Friday and didn’t want to return at 7:30am on Saturday just to miss the cut), but he turned it around with a three-under 33 on the next nine to post 77 in the first round.
From there, Huh has gone bogey-free and posted 13-under over his last 46 holes. Which is, well, ridiculously impressive, particularly in the breezy conditions at the not-so-impressive TPC San Antonio track.
“I was hitting it OK (on my first nine holes), but my misses were on the short side and I couldn’t get up and down,” Huh told a PGA Tour media official on Saturday evening. “The first two holes were shot to the green and I couldn’t get up and down. I didn’t have a good start but I was playing well, that’s just how golf is sometimes. I felt I was playing well but it didn’t start showing up on the scorecard until my 10th hole.”
You know, I’ve heard that several times this week, where guys have made big numbers and scored poorly, yet they didn’t feel like they played that badly. Discuss: Is that indicative of shoddy course design and/or setup?
But I digress.
The 21-year-old rookie fired a five-under 67 to make the most out of “moving day” and surge into a tie for third going into the final round.
“What am I four or five shots out of the lead? said Huh, referring to his expectations for Sunday. “All I can do is play my best and see what happens.”
2003 Open Championship golfer Ben Curtis has a comfy three-shot cushion at nine-under, with Matt Every the closest contender at six-under.
Huh seems to thrive when the wind is swirling and giving most of the field fits. He won in Mexico in gusty conditions. Interesting enough, he told me at the Honda Classic that he normally doesn’t play well in the wind (despite what the results show), and said in March, “recently I’ve just come out really hot.” Looks like that’s the case again.
He’s already been the Cinderella story of the year, but he can add an even better sequel by capturing his second victory in 11 starts. As we’ve seen this season, a five-shot lead can disappear in a flash.
As a Q-school romantic who is already mourning its imminent death, I’m a sucker for sappy underdog, Jeremy-Lin-esque narratives. In any case, Huh’s week so far is yet another reminder it’s a 72-hole tournament (though, as they say, you can’t win it on Thursday, but you can lose it…).