Duke, UNC blues dot the Pinehurst greens
Duke’s Joe Ogilvie and North Carolina’s Mark Wilson used to play golf together during collegiate competitions. Twenty years later they’ll be teeing off together on the sport’s biggest stage.
Ogilvie, Wilson and the fittingly-named Ken Duke will start at hole No. 10 at 12:52 p.m. today at the 114th U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst No. 2, providing a local flavor to an international event that is taking place about 80 minutes from where both Ogilvie and Wilson went to school.
After playing a practice round on Wednesday with Geoff Ogilvy and Kenny Perry, Ogilvie said he heard plenty of cheers from Duke fans – and nothing negative from any North Carolina supporters. He’s looking forward to what could be a mixed reaction from the gallery today.
“I think ACC people like ACC guys,” Ogilvie said. “It will be fun. Hopefully you play well enough to get even more support.”
Wilson was a two-time All-America and two time All-ACC performer in 1996 and 1997 and won the 1996 ACC championship, while Ogilvie was an honorable mention all-America in 1995. Both players turn 40 this year and are hoping that the local support will help push them to personal bests in this event.
Wilson has won five PGA tour titles between 2007-12, though he hasn’t made the cut in three previous U.S. Opens. This will be the seventh U.S. Open for Ogilvie, whose best finish was tied for 36th in 2008.
Ogilvie is joined in the field this week by two more Blue Devils – 2005 and 2006 ACC player of the year Ryan Blaum and 2001 graduate Kevin Streelman, who earned his PGA Tour card in 2008 and is No. 57 in the world rankings.
“It’s always nice to hear the ‘Go Duke!’ out there,” said Blaum, whose golf bag features has a blue Duke ‘D’ as its most prominent feature. “Obviously the logo kind of gives it away.”
Streelman and Blaum will tee off back-to-back today, with Streelman starting from No. 10 at 2:09 p.m. and Blaum following at 2:20 p.m.
Duke’s record holder for career average (72.16), Blaum has played in the U.S. Open only once before, in 2009, when he missed the cut by one stroke. Because of the location, he said making it to Pinehurst this week was a big goal.
“To be so close to the Triangle and to have the support of the crowds makes it a little extra special this week and it was definitely a little extra incentive in qualifying,” Blaum said. “I’ve been thinking about qualifying for this event ever since last year’s U.S. Open.”
It wasn’t easy. Playing a qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, Blaum bogeyed No. 18 on the final day to slide into a five-man playoff for three spots. He rebounded with a 30-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to make the U.S. Open field.
Ogilvie welcomed a larger Duke contingent. Streelman is the only Blue Devil who currently has his tour card, though Blaum is in line to get one through his place in the Web.com Tour standings and 2011 Duke graduate Wes Roach is also making a charge.
“Kevin asked me questions,” Ogilvie said. “Now I’m asking him questions. Ryan will be the same way with Kevin and me. The door’s always open. It’s just nice to have other guys from your school.”
NOTE – On Friday, Ogilvie and Wilson will tee off from No. 1 at 7:07 a.m., followed by Streelman at 8:24 a.m. and Blaum at 8:35 a.m. … There are a total of 15 ACC golfers in the field, including N.C. State’s Garth Mulroy, who tees off from No. 1 today at 12:30 p.m. Two of the last five U.S. Open champions played in the ACC, with Wake Forest’s Webb Simpson winning in 2012 and Clemson’s Lucas Glover winning in 2009.