Sports

UP favorite son Michael Putnam will get 115th US Open off and running Thursday

It only seems appropriate University Place’s Michael Putnam gets to hit the first tee shot of the 115th United States Open at Chambers Bay.

He was the first golfer from Pierce County to play a preview round on the links-style course from the back tees — months before it opened in 2007.

“It is an honor,” Putnam said Friday, only hours after the USGA released the tee times for the first two rounds Thursday and Friday. “I am pretty sure (the USGA) did it on purpose.”

Putnam, Australia’s Marcus Fraser and a player yet in the field — six spots will be determined Sunday night after the completion of play on the PGA Tour — will all tee off in the first group off the No. 1 tee at 7 a.m. PST.

And the Life Christian Academy graduate will lead off in that grouping.

“I will have the lead,” Putnam said, “for at least one shot.”

For months, Putnam had put great importance in getting into this national open held just down the street from where he grew up.

He had to do it the hard way, too — by coming through Columbus, Ohio, on Monday as the sectional qualifying co-medalist (12-under 132) at Brookside Golf and Country Club and Lakes Golf and Country Club.

So on that first tee, with lots of family and friends in the gallery, what club will Putnam choose to hit?

“Is it going to be a par 5 or par 4?” said Putnam with a chuckle.

“No, I’ll hit driver no matter what.”

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