by Rachel Finkbeiner, Staff intern
The U.S. Open has only one winner. Everyone but the winner typically wishes he had a better game, but for most, there’s still something to be said about finishing a major tournament.
Clayton Rask might not have gotten the final score he wanted, but he did make it to day four in his first ever PGA tournament in the 114th Open at Pinehurst, N.C.
“To be honest I was disappointed at how I ended up today. I had two bad swings on 11 and 12 that ended up costing me quite a few shots. But overall it was a great experience,” said Rask, the Otsego native and former Elk and Gopher standout who qualified this year for the first time after a decade of trying.
Rask pulled birdies on holes nine and 10, but double bogeys on holes 11 and 12 would keep him six above par. He shot 77, the same score he had in round three.
Rask did keep his round below 300, which was his goal, but his 18-over-par 298 (73-71-77-77) was not enough to bring him up in the standings. He tied for 63rd.
Walking off the course the feeling was still positive for Rask. He had told himself before playing in the tournament that he knew he could play at this level and make the cut.
“My first PGA event, to have it be a major, and still make the cut, it’s a great confidence booster and a great validation for myself,” said Rask.
The four-day tournament left many memories for Rask. One of the best was on day two, Friday, when he made a birdie on No. 9 to clinch his spot in the final two rounds.
After all the cameras were off, he could see the emotions among family and friends when he hit the green and had eight feet to make the putt, which he made. That birdie was celebrated with a long walk back to clubhouse as all of the Rask fan club could not fit into the shuttle.
His gallery consisted of his fiancé, Gina Bishop, his parents, his finace’s father, his brother, uncle, and a group of friends from Atlanta and the clubhouse.
“You could hear the Minnesota chants and go Gophers,” Rask said. “It was a lot of fun hearing your name chanted and I couldn’t ask for a better week, having it be on Father’s Day and having my dad and my fiancés dad down here.”
Rask made some new friends in the tournament including one of the PGA stars, Sergio Garcia. They played together on a practice round exchanged hellos throughout the tournament and their respective girlfriends talked numerous times.
“He is one of the nicest, down to earth, fun guys I can ever think of,” commented Rask about Garcia, who tied for 35th with a 288.
Rask now gets to head back north to Minnesota for a two-week vacation. The golfer is looking forward to spending more time with family and possibly going camping, getting some lake time, and maybe attending Rockin’ Rogers days.
He will also be practicing at home, with nine events left on the Canadian Tour.
But the biggest event of the year will be an October 24 wedding for Bishop and Rask.
Rask hopes that this will be the first of the many opportunities to play in a PGA major event.
“I showed myself that I can hang with these guys. It’s just a mater of getting out here and getting those opportunities to keep playing out here,” said Rask, whose performance in the Open allows him to skip local qualifiers next year and move straight to sectionals.
“I sure hope to do it again,” said Rask.
The winner of the U.S. Open was Martin Kaymer. The German had a big lead all the way and finished nine-under at 271, a whopping eight strokes ahead of the runners-up, Americans Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler finished tied for second, at one under par.