AP NEWS

Wise up for pro debut at Open

June 16, 2016 GMT

The 116th U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club has been described by some PGA stars as golf’s toughest test.

After acing his on-course finals at Oregon, Aaron Wise believes that he’s ready to make his professional debut on the daunting big stage.

Wise is scheduled to tee off in the first round at 11:31 a.m. Thursday on the par-70, 7,219-yard course in Oakmont, Pa., with American touring pros Ethan Tracy and Brandon Harkins.

The threesome will begin its second round at 5:46 a.m. on Friday. FS1 will have coverage of the first two rounds from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. with Fox taking over from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday.

“I’ve heard Oakmont is an impossible test,” Wise said after winning a 36-hole sectional qualifier on June 6 at Royal Oaks Country Club in Vancouver, Wash. “I’d better go practice up.”

Wise doesn’t have any major championship experience at the professional level, but the 19-year-old is brimming with confidence after winning both the NCAA individual and team titles with the Ducks last month at Eugene Country Club.

Five days after the euphoria of realizing all of his collegiate dreams, Wise shot a 9-under-par 135 total in the sectional qualifier, which was two strokes better than Mackenzie Tour professional Travis Howe (137).

“I think it’s just a testament to how strong mentally he is,” said Oregon assistant Van Williams, who caddied for Wise at Royal Oaks and will remain on the bag at Oakmont. “To bounce back from such an emotional high that we had and come tee it up and do it is impressive.”

Oregon coach Casey Martin finished in a tie for 23rd at the 1998 U.S. Open. He also won a sectional qualifier at Emerald Valley Golf Club in 2012 U.S. Open, and Ducks senior Brandon McIver qualified for the 2014 U.S. Open.

Wise talked about the wild ride he has been on over the last three weeks.

“I think it has somewhat set in. There’s a couple moments where I’m like, ‘Wow, we just swept the NCAAs,’?” Wise said. “But it’s hard, because you have to keep getting refocused for these tournaments that keep coming up.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I’m sure there will be a stretch where I’m able to reflect on all of it once it’s over.”