By Tim Liotta
Beau Hossler, a U.S. Open Darling 11 Years Ago, Knows It's Time for Him to Produce
Eleven years ago, with his high school golf bag propped up by his side, Beau Hossler introduced himself to the world of golf fans in U.S. Open style.
A 17-year-old amateur and high school senior, Hossler reached the top of the leaderboard midway through the second round at the 2012 U.S. Open Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, CA. Having qualified for the U.S. Open for the second year in a row, Hossler remained in contention with crowds chanting his name, showering him with standing ovations across the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
Still just four shots off the lead with 18 holes to play, Hossler struggled to a final-round 76 to finish at nine-over-par 289, tied for 29th. Afterwards, he fielded questions about taking the SATs and the subject of his senior project, and said he'd remember how loud the crowds were.
"I mean on TV you can hear it but you can't really tell," he said. "Obviously, the standing ovation on the last hole and on hole 8, both maybe, even the last three days, you can't see that on TV.
"You can't really tell how many people and how loud it is. And to hear them chanting my name, that's pretty awesome."
He would qualify again three years later, becoming only the second amateur to qualify three times for the U.S. Open. The first being Jack Nicklaus 55 years earlier.
Three years at the University of Texas, seven seasons on the PGA Tour have come and gone since Hossler's amateur days. Now 28, Hossler finished up his 2022-23 season with three top-15 finishes in PGA Tour Fall events, including a T2 at the ZOZO Championship in Japan. After that finish, he spoke with the media:
"I would say this is just a continuation of -- probably the last three months for me has been a significant trend in the right direction," he said. "I'm tired of talking about what I'm capable of doing, it's about time I just do it. You know, me and my team know what I'm capable of and I just hope to do it."
Hossler's finish at ZOZO was the highlight in a season during which he played 34 events, and he spent the PGA Tour Fall season playing with an eye toward 2024. He played five of the eight Fall events, making five cuts, finishing T30 or better in all five, improving his place in the FedEx Cup standings from No. 58 to 52.
"It's been a hectic year. Really strenuous schedule, particularly with the top-50 being so important this year, I wanted to give myself the best chance to do that," he said. "Fell a little bit short, but I guess a little bit of icing on the cake here to play so far pretty darn well in the fall and secure I guess now, according to you, a couple starts (in Signature events) to start the year. That's kind of what we're playing for. Obviously it's a big difference points wise in those tournaments.
Hossler's first taste of U.S. Open competition still resonates within.
"Frankly, my whole thing, and I've said this from top to bottom, you want the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world and that's where they'll be," Hossler went on to say. "So I hope to earn my way into all of them and compete and hopefully win some golf tournaments."
Hossler competed in only one major in 2023, finishing T40 at the PGA Championship at Oak Hills Country Club in Rochester, NY, and his T29 at the 2012 U.S. Open. He has made the cut in eight of his nine career majors, and posted opening rounds of 69-67 to be tied for third at the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, MA.
After his second round, Hossler met with the media, and fielded the following:
"I was covering that U.S. Open where you were made such a splash. They were showing highlights from that. I think this tournament especially there's that sense of kind of continuity, amateur to pro, and it fascinates a lot of people. I'm curious what you think. Here you are again, obviously you've lived every day since then, but for many people this is kind of like, oh, there he is again."
"It's kind of interesting you say that," Hossler responded. "I was having a conversation with some staff in the locker room because I was asked the question how many players played in the U.S. Amateur in '13 and are playing the U.S. Open this year. And, apparently, I had the highest number, and I guessed 20 but it was 22.
"I think that tells you something about the amateur game. Having been kind of a top amateur, college player, probably sounded a bit confident or arrogant at the time, but I always felt like I could compete at this level. Maybe not necessarily win a major at that age, but to contend and be near the top of the leaderboard I think is very feasible.
"You see amateurs every year make the cut in a U.S. Open. You see tons of guys qualify. You see players that are 16, 18 years old qualify it feels like every year now. I know at the time I did it in 2012 I was probably one of the younger ones ever, but it does seem like the bar keeps getting lower and lower and lower. Guys are here year in and year out that are high school or college players, and it almost feels normal.
"No, I think the amateur game is -- the top amateurs in the world are your next Collin Morikawas and Will Zalatorises and Scottie Schefflers. Three years ago all those guys were your top amateur players, and here they are at the moment the top professional players."
After 176 PGA Tour events over the last seven years, Hossler has three runner-up finishes, two thirds, six top-5s, and 14 top-10s while making 114 of 176 cuts.
At the end of the 2022-23 seasons, Hossler ranked 158th in Strokes Gained: Approach in 2023, but saw significant improvement late in the year.
"My wedge play is starting to get really good, inside probably 140," he said at the Shriner's Childrens Classic in Las Vegas in October. "I feel like I can hit it in there tight or have a very nice look pretty much every time, and that was something I was struggling with for a few years. That's been significantly improved.
"I think driving, if I can just get it in play, I hit it long enough, if I can get in the fairway and get some looks, especially a course like (TPC Summerlin) that's playing pretty firm and fast, if you get it in the fairway, you can get a lot of wedge looks."