School's out, but learning sessions endure for Hall
PHOTOS: U.S. Open at Merion (Wednesday)
Check out photos from Wednesday's practice round at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
ARDMORE, Pa. Most soon-to-be high school graduates can't wait to rip open the numerous cash envelopes that suddenly appear after earning your diploma.
For 18-year-old Gavin Hall, he's cashing in in a different way.
He's teeing it up at the U.S. Open – including a Wednesday practice round with Masters champ Adam Scott – signaling only the start of fulfilling his dream of cashing bigger checks as a pro.
"I'm just excited to get my summer started off in a good spot," said Hall, who won his sectional qualifier in New York to get into the field. "I'm just happy to be healthy again."
Health has been a big concern for Hall over the past two years, nursing a right wrist injury that took him out of the spotlight after winning the AJGA's Junior Players Championship in September 2011.
"My health was off and on for two years. I am so fortunate to be back and healthy," said Hall, who picked up a hole-in-one on the par-3 9th Sunday during a practice round. "It has all made me appreciate golf more. Also makes me appreciate the things you have in life."
That's plenty of perspective for a teen who has had to grow up quickly. Hall decided to enroll early at UCLA this past spring, only to withdraw from his scholarship with the Bruins and return home to New York.
With the recruiting process starting all over again, Hall ultimately chose to join good buddy Beau Hossler and the Texas Longhorns in the fall.
"It was nice to feel wanted, being recruited all over again. I get to be with guys that have the same dreams and aspirations that I do," said Hall. "Knowing Beau well is going to be a lot of fun. It's just another progression to where i want to go."
Hossler qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic, leading at one point in the second round. Hall picked his brain during their time as Junior Ryder Cup teammates, but the two have only traded a handful of text messages as Hall prepares to take on the pressure cooker that is Merion.
"I am just looking to get a feel of a U.S. Open," said Hall of his expectations this week.
Hall got a great feel of playing in front of sizable crowds Wednesday, as the galleries following Scott are growing each week.
"It was great. (Scott is) such a class act; anytime you can play with a major winner, especially one as of late, it's cool," said Hall, moments after posing on the 13th green for a picture with Scott. "His golf game is great, but he's an even better person."
Hall would like to reward another special person by sticking around for the weekend.
"I'd love to be here on Sunday for Father's Day. My parents are unbelievable. They've done everything for me."
No cash envelope needed.