Brian Campbell had just birdied his second straight hole, No. 3 at Chambers Bay on Friday, and as he walked to the next tee he peered up at the giant scoreboard, and there at the top was his own name. The 22-year-old amateur from Irvine was the leader of the 115th U.S. Open.
It was a brief occupation, because Campbell bogeyed the very next hole, but to have been there at all was a new thrill for Campbell.
“That was pretty cool,” Campbell said. “I at least have that today. You can’t let it affect you too much. I think I handled myself well after that.”
Campbell went on to shoot 2-over-par 72 in Round 2 to stand at 1-under 139 for the tournament, which dropped him off the lead pace, but still put him solidly into the weekend in his second straight Open appearance.
Last year, Campbell reached the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and missed the cut by shooting 76-70.
“It’s huge,” Campbell said of the previous Open experience. “You come out and it’s the U.S. Open. You’ve never seen anything like it before. It really kind of impacts you in a way you’re not used to. After going through it once, it showed me it’s like any other tournament, just with really good players. As long as you play your game and hit good shots you can compete out here.”
Campbell was well-prepared for this Open. His Illinois golf team reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championship before eliminated by USC. They played at the extremely difficult Concession GC in Florida.
Once Campbell arrived here, he played several practice rounds with his close friend from Southern California, Jake Knapp, who shot 74-76 to miss the cut in his first U.S. Open appearance.
The third of the trio of buddies, two-time SCGA Amateur Champ Beau Hossler, shot 72 in the second round after opening with 71 and was within the cut line for the second time in his young career.
Campbell said he loves the opportunity to use his creativity at tricky Chambers Bay.
“I love using my wedge and putter for different shots,” Campbell said. “It makes the game a lot more fun. I really embrace that part of it. It’s been a lot of fun.”