Beau Hossler made news in 2011 when he qualified for the United States Open golf championship after his sophomore year of high school.
In 2012, the Santa Margarita Catholic High golfer did himself even better. He actually led the 112th tournament in the second round and went into the final round with a chance to win.
It didn't work out for Hossler at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. He faltered in that fourth and final round and the final result failed to quantify the excitement that he generated. But by the time his big week was over, he had played a private round with Phil Mickelson, had Tiger Woods' admiration, and his mother was deemed "hot" enough to set the internet abuzz.
It was hard not to get excited about Hossler's effort. Carrying Santa Margarita colors on his golf bag and wearing the University of Texas colors on his shirt (he is now at Texas after finishing SMCHS coursework early), Hossler gave every indication that he is destined to become one of the familiar names in golf.
He entered the tournament on a roll, having shot 58 under par over his previous 18 rounds, which included finishing second in the Open Qualifier and runner-up in the CIF State championship, and was ranked the No. 3 junior in the nation.
He shot a solid 70 in the first round to steal the hype from 14-year-old Andy Zhang, the youngest Open participant ever. Hossler was seventh overall, one shot behind Tiger Woods, and said his experience from a year earlier—even though he was eliminated after two rounds—had made him better.
Twelve months that rocky debut, Hossler was leading the U.S. Open. It was brief—a few minutes, really—but his name was atop the leaderboard, and how many 17-year-olds can say that?
Hossler began the second round by teeing off on No. 9, and he picked up where he left off a day earlier. Through 11 holes, he was two-under par and living large. Then it fell apart. The lead didn't last through 12th hole. He went bogey—or worse—on six of his last seven holes and finished three-over 73. Still, he remained in the top 10, tied for ninth.
"It was pretty special to see my name up there," Hossler said of his glimpse at the leaderboard as he walked from the green of the No. 1 hole to the tee box of the No. 2. "I dreamed of playing in the U.S. Open, but not necessarily leading."
With Hossler having a big day, ESPN focused on his family, including his mother, Amy Balsz. Before the weekend was over, she became a trending topic on Twitter.
Hossler's goal, to be low amateur, shifted to winning the tournament. He remained in the top 10 through the third round, the first amateur since 1998 to be in that position through 54 holes. By matching his first-round 70, he was tied for eighth and led Woods—the second round leader—by a stroke heading into the final day.
Hossler entered the fourth round attempting to become the first amateur since Johnny Goodman in 1933 to win the event. But the course that had been so difficult for the professionals finally caught up to the Mission Viejo youngster.
After having only 12 holes of bogey or worse through the first three rounds, Hossler had eight in the fourth round.
His goal of winning disappeared. His goal of finishing in the top 10 vanished. His goal of being the low amateur for the tournament went up in flames.
His final round 76 gave him a four-round total of 289. He tied for 29th.
But he had outshone those who finished ahead of him. He got people talking about golf and its future. He was a shot in the arm on the national stage.
And he was our own.