Wu finishes in tie for 31st at first career U.S. Open
After grinding through 72 holes of golf at his first U.S. Open, Dylan Wu can finally exhale a little bit.
He made it through from start to finish, even seeing his name on the leaderboard for a short period of time, and didn’t let a sometimes-brutal Torrey Pines Golf Course get the better of him.
And best of all, he was able to close out his time in San Diego on a high note Sunday, as the 24-year-old Wu was able to shake off a couple of early bogeys on the front nine and finished with an even par 71 for the day and 4 over in the tournament.
“Today was good,” Wu said. “My goal today was to hit more fairways and give myself a few more chances, and I definitely hit a lot more fairways. I was in the rough maybe once or twice, which is way better than the day before. The golf course is just a lot easier when you play from the fairway.
“Shooting even today, it was a good solid day and I was happy with the way that I fought. I easily could have finished one shot, two shots or three shots worse.”
Wu, a 2014 graduate of St. Mary’s and a member of the Korn Ferry Tour, nearly cracked the top 30 on Sunday and was tied for 35th when he headed in to sign his scorecard. He finished in 31st place, tied with Patrick Rodgers, Joaquin Niemann and Chistiaan Bezuidenhout.
“It was my first time playing the weekend at a major and sometimes when you’re playing well Thursday and Friday, you get the lucky breaks. Then Saturday and Sunday, that’s when the adversity can hit,” Wu said. “I’m just happy with how I finished.”
One of the biggest things Wu wanted to improve upon entering his final round was his ability to hit the fairway on his drives. After hitting 21% of his fairways in Friday’s second round and then 29% on Saturday, the adjustments Wu made going into Sunday proved to be just what he needed.
Wu hit 57% (8-of-14) of the fairways, which tied for the 16th best mark in the final round. It was just what he wanted to do that allowed him to be more aggressive on his approach shots. He averaged over 334 yards off the tee and hit 56% (10-of-18) of his greens in regulation.
“The fairways aren’t easy to hit. There’s not that much water and hazard, but the rough is thick and the fairways are narrow, so it makes it a little harder,” Wu said. “I worked hard (Saturday) after the round just basically hitting drivers and just tried to imagine the holes. That’s what I was doing the days before, but yesterday I spent a little more time because I knew that in the U.S. Open driving the ball on the fairways is the No. 1 thing.”
Much like Saturday’s third round, Wu was able to finish the front nine on a good note with a birdie on the ninth hole, a 607-yard par 5. That got him back to 1 over for the round after he had bogeys on the fifth and seventh holes. He also missed a birdie chance on the second hole, having to settle for par after his approach shot got him within 7 ½ feet of the hole.
He started the back nine like he finished the front nine — with a birdie, sinking a 29-foot putt to get back to even on the round.
The 12th hole, where Wu carded a double bogey during Saturday’s round, proved to be one of the toughest holes the entire tournament.
“Yeah, that 12th hole is no fun,” Wu said with a slight laugh. “Twelve and 15, they are just brutal holes. They’re both over 500 yards and par 4s and they don’t play downwind.”
Wu, however, rebounded quickly from the bogey on 12.
He again came close to a birdie on 13 after a nice approach shot from the fairway, this time seeing his first putt go a foot wide. He tapped in for par.
Maybe his best shot of the round came on the par-4 15th for his final birdie of the round, as Wu chipped in from 11 yards out to get back to even for the round.
Wu recorded three straight pars to finish out his round, just missing a birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have sent him under par for the day.
“Honestly, right after I finished, I had just lipped out pretty hard, so I was just like, ‘Dangit!’” Wu said. “You always want to finish strong and I’ve done a good job of that the last two days, but I hit a good putt. That’s just the one thing you can do is just hit a good putt.”
Wu, who was already on the road to Arizona Sunday night, will now head back to the Korn Ferry Tour, which will be in Falmouth, Maine, this coming weekend.
After having to go coast-to-coast after his last Korn Ferry event, it’s a trip back to the Eastern time zone that Wu is happy to make.
Wu sits in 28th on the Korn Ferry Tour’s points standings.
The top 25 will earn a PGA Tour card at season’s end.
“The goal is now that with the last two results from the week before in the Korn Ferry event and this week, it gives me a lot of confidence that I’m trending in the right direction,” Wu said. “I know my game is in a good place and I just need to have four solid rounds and hopefully finish the season really well and then hopefully be on the PGA Tour this fall and join the guys I played with this week.”
“Just using last week and this week as a confidence builder, it’s going to be easier playing the Korn Ferry events, but you still have to play good golf out there,” Wu continued. “I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing right now and hopefully it ends up with some good results in the next couple of weeks.”
For somebody who had only one PGA Tour event to his name before this week, Wu certainly tried to make the most of this chance on one of the biggest stages in the sport.
There were plenty of ups and downs to try and manage.
It was a wild ride along the way, including a brush with the top of the leaderboard during the early parts of his second round Friday.
Looking back on it now, as he logged miles in his car from San Diego to Arizona, the first time around in the U.S. Open only has Wu wanting to come back again 12 months from now.
For now, a simple chance to exhale will do just fine.
“I think tonight and tomorrow and probably Tuesday, I’m not going to do much,” Wu said. “When you play in the U.S. Open, it’s definitely mentally draining. I’m definitely a harsh critic of myself, and I was telling my fiance that I’m not 100% happy with how I played in the U.S. Open, but I am very content with it, so that’s definitely in the right direction. I’m just happy and make sure to take care of myself off the golf course, just relax and take a day off, and do what I do best to prepare for next week.
“This week has been great, but starting tomorrow when I get to Maine, it’s already a new week and you have to reset, set a game plan for the week. The week after when I actually have an off week I can actually reset.”
Reach Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.