On the one hand this might be seen as a bit of fun, on the other it's unfair to say the least. John Eckert will now be remembered as the guy who shot 112 in a US Open local qualifier.
Eckert didn't even turn up at the right tee, he was on the 1st when he should have been meeting Cole Gritton and Thomas Henson on the 10th tee at Oakwood Country Club.
The 26-year-old from Kansas had entered as a professional so he didn't have to prove his handicap credentials. He teed off with a hybrid at the opening hole, a reachable par 5, and topped it 15 feet. He actually parred the 12th hole before making back-to-back quadruples. There was another at the 18th and he reached the turn in 22-over 58. The back nine was slightly better, with three late pars, though there was a 10 in there but, all in all it was a shambles.
“Everything seems normal – he's dressed nice, has a caddie, shakes hands. But it was nothing normal after that,” explains playing partner Gritton. "At the 1st he's aimed about 30 degrees left, and he just cold tops it. I didn’t even know what to say. He kind of got it up there decent, but the next red flag was he was putting with his glove on. I was thinking maybe this is just some weekend warrior and this has been his dream to play a qualifier.”
Eckert's caddie later admitted that he had lost a fantasy football bet and this was his punishment or rather Gritton and Henson's.
“I was kind of mad, kind of wanted to laugh, didn’t really know how to feel,” added Gritton. “He was pretty quiet for most of the round. I actually figured out on the second hole that he graduated from Fort Hays. He was like, ‘But I didn’t play golf there.’ And I’m thinking, Well, obviously.”
As for Eckert he told ESPN.com: "I'm pretty happy with the four pars, for sure. The walking got to me. I'm more of a cart guy myself. The nerves started to calm down and I settled into the round. I managed to par three of my last five holes. After those holes, my confidence skyrocketed. If this were a two-round qualifier, the field may have been in trouble."
Gritton and Henson both shot 81 to miss out.
“Me and Thomas weren’t playing very well, but it was definitely tough to keep momentum going. It probably didn’t affect us that much, but your mind does wander a bit and you’re not the most focused when that’s going on. The 60-yard wiper slice all day was not something I wanted to look at.”