Ahead of his major championship debut at the US Open on Thursday, Web.com Tour regular and Inverell favourite son Brett Drewitt shared his journey to Pebble Beach with PGA Contributor Tony Webeck.
My first memory of playing golf was hitting balls into the paddock of our pig farm in Inverell with Dad’s old cut-down 7-iron; on Tuesday I played nine holes with Phil Mickelson at Pebble Beach in preparation for my first US Open.
Since I won a playoff last Monday to earn my first start at a major everything has been a bit of a blur.
It didn’t really hit home until I got to Pebble on Monday that I am playing a US Open.
You get to the course, go through registration and get your badges; that’s when it really hit me. I’ve been trying to soak it all in as much as I can ever since.
We moved out to Inverell when I was seven years old and we had a pig farm. Dad cut down an old 7-iron and I would just spend time out in the backyard banging balls into the paddock. I played cricket so hitting a ball wasn’t too hard for me.
Growing up I had my heart set on being a professional cricketer. I made a few North-West rep teams and playing for Inverell I played a lot of my junior cricket against Josh Hazlewood when he was growing up in Tamworth. I was a batsman and he was a bowler and we had a cool little rivalry going there for a while. For him to now be opening the bowling for Australia and me to be here playing in a US Open is pretty awesome.
I’d go out to the golf course with Dad on the weekend and get up in the early hours of the morning to watch the majors on TV, watching Tiger win at Pebble back in 2000. To be here now playing in my first major at Pebble Beach is definitely a dream come true.
Like any golfer who gets this far there is a lot of hard work that goes into it but you also need a bit of luck, and I got very lucky in 2012.
I was halfway between Inverell and Sydney when I was involved in a head-on collision.
I was on my way to see my coach and came round a corner at around 2 in the afternoon. There was a car on the wrong side of the road and we just hit.
I was going around 80-90 kilometres an hour but didn’t have time to hit the brakes. To be honest, I didn’t even have time for life to flash before my eyes.
I don’t know why but my first instinct was to try and get out of the car. I was walking so I knew my legs were fine; it was a crazy experience.
All I had was seatbelt bruising. I had a couple of little cuts but I got really lucky.
I was able to fly to Thailand seven days later and play the Asian Amateur and finish seventh, which I thought was quite impressive.
It was probably good that the cars hit the way they did because there was a cliff on the left side and a hill on the right. If I’d tried to swerve I would have swerved off the cliff or swerved into the hill and maybe flipped the car and still gone off the cliff.
I got very lucky.
Prepping for Pebble
I’ve played PGA TOUR events in the past and when you think about it this week really isn’t too much different. The field is very similar, they just call it a major and the course plays a little bit harder.
It’s fortunate in some ways that it is at Pebble and I’ve played here before in 2017 and played quite well. Perhaps if I was to play my first major at Shinnecock Hills or a US Open course that I’d never played before it might be more daunting but I’ve definitely got some good vibes coming back here.
The battle to get here started at Local Qualifying in Texas and went all the way to Sectional Qualifying and the playoff in Ohio. I’d gone out in the first group of the day on the last day and from the time I finished, it looked like 4-under was going to be enough.
I had mates such as Zac Blair congratulating me on getting through but the guy who ended up making the playoff finished birdie-birdie-birdie to get to 4-under; all of a sudden we were heading back out to the 10th tee to decide the final spot.
We both got our tee shots away and the green had a tier running down the middle and the flag was back-left. His approach shot caught the ridge and went down to the bottom area to the right, my lob wedge from 95 yards came out a little hot and trickled over the back edge which left me a tricky shot from the fringe.
His putt from 40-feet didn’t get up the slope and came back to him and then with his next shot he putted up to about three feet.
I was thinking at this point that at worse we’ll be going to the 11th hole but I managed to hole a six-footer down the hill and straight away it hit me, I’m going to the Open.
When I arrived at Pebble on Monday I went out for nine holes by myself late in the afternoon and then on Tuesday I played nine holes with Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm, who I know from back home at Scottsdale.
Phil’s a great dude. We talked a lot and had a great time and given Jon’s a pretty decent friend it was good to play with him.
Phil didn’t say a whole lot about playing Pebble itself, it was more about how to manage your preparation and how to make sure you feel good in yourself.
I asked him a couple of questions about the short game given what a genius he is. At one point we were all at the back of a green watching him show us a few shots which was pretty cool.
Other than that Phil was just hitting bombs and doing his thing; it was just cool to see him do it in person.
I’m in the last group off the 1st tee on Thursday – three groups behind Tiger – so I’ll play another nine holes on Wednesday, get some work done and then just soak up the experience.
I’ve got my wife Brianna and her family with me this week along with our 3-month-old son Brady so on Thursday morning I’ll probably just hang out with them, get in a gym session and maybe even watch some of the golf to see what’s happening.
I’ve had patches this year where I’ve played well and then some bad stuff, now I’ve just got to put it all together.
You never know, it might come together this week.
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