Beau Hossler had history in his sights, and then it blew up in his viewfinder.
Hoping to become the first amateur since 1933 to win the U.S. Open, the 17-year-old from Mission Viejo on Sunday became another casualty of what is called golf's toughest test.
The 112th United States Open Championship rode Hossler's shoulders as the young man—a week removed from his junior year at Santa Margarita Catholic High—captivated the golf world and Twitter universe.
But the Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco was a bit like the House in Vegas—it gets the last word.
And so on Sunday, with a national television audience watching, Hossler unleashed his worst round in a month on the biggest stage of his life. He shot 6-over par 76 to finish at 70-73-70-76—289 and finish tied for 29th place with eight other golfers.
He had started the day four strokes back in a tie for eighth place, but missed an opportunity to become the first amateur since 1971 to finish in the top 10.
The first high school golfer since 1951 to qualify for back-to-back Opens, Hossler finished tied with Davis Love III, and a stroke ahead of Sergio Garcia, and seven strokes ahead of Phil Mickelson. Those are the moral victories he will bring back to south Orange County after finishing nine strokes over par for the tournament but winning legions of fans.
After an extaordinary even round on Saturday that put him solidly among the leaders, Hossler reconfigured his pre-tournament goal; instead of just finishing as the low amateur, he wanted to win outright.
In the end, he didn't even finish as low amateur. Jordan Spieth of the University of Texas shot a 70 to finish at 287 and earn amateur honors for the tournament. Patrick Cantlay, formerly of Servite and now at UCLA, shot 72 to finish at 291.
But for the first three rounds, it was Hossler who was grabbing headlines and attention. And, let's face it, with another year of high school and a college career at Texas ahead of him, he already has two U.S. Open appearances in the bag and surely has a few more stuffed in there somewhere.
And it should be apparent that eventually, he'll be playing the tournament as a pro.
But that's down the road.
His four rounds at Olympic will no doubt be as valuable as his two rounds , when he missed the cut but got . He said last year's event helped him this year, and no doubt, this year's event will help him in the future.
Sunday's exercise was another example of what it takes to be great on the grand stage in this sport. Webb Simpson, 26, shot a 2-under 68—his second 68 in a row—to steal the title from Graeme McDowell and Michael Thompson. It's Simpson's first major championship.
Thompson shot low round of the day, 67, while McDowell shot 73. Jim Furyk, who was tied with McDowell for the lead after 54 holes, blew up almost as bad as Hossler, shooting 74 to finish a 3-over 283.
For comparison purposes, Mickelson shot a 78. Just goes to show that golf is unforgiving, for amateurs as well as pros. Despite Hossler's blowup, he still outscored Tiger Woods over the last two rounds even though he finished two strokes behind Woods' 287.
Hossler bogeyed the third, fourth and fifth holes. Twenty-four hours earlier, Hossler had followed each of his bogeys with a birdie. But the early-going Sunday foreshadowed that this wasn't going to be one of those special days in which Hossler joined the Open's last amateur winner, Johnny Goodman in 1933, in the history books.
Hossler's day could have been better if had an inch here or there. He missed par on No. 8 with a putt that was an inch inside, and a 30-footer for birdie on No. 11 that lipped out. He was 2-over for the round after 12 holes, then had bogeys on 13, 14 and 16. He parred 7, 9 and 15.
Through the first three rounds—54 holes—Hossler made only 11 bogeys. On Sunday, he made eight, including a double-bogey on the 18th hole, after which he received a standing ovation from the thousands in attendance.
A well-deserved standing ovation.
It was a weekend of cheers and chants for the rooting favorite. On the first hole, the teen heard a chorus of "Let's go Hoss-ler."
Then me saved a couple of pars before his day unraveled. But still, it was a day like no other.
"To hear them chanting my name," Hossler said, "that's pretty awesome."
It sure is.