Will Grimmer is looking forward to one change to since his last U.S. Open appearance.
The then 17-year-old was excited about the courtesy car he got as a competitor in 2014 at Pinehurst. Until he was told he had to be 18 to drive it.
“Yeah, but I got shotgun,” said Grimmer, laughing.
His experience will be quite different at Shinnecock Hills. Grimmer, 21, medaled at a sectional qualifier in Springfield, Ohio, on June 4 to cement his spot in the 2018 U.S. Open.
Grimmer has bulked up his resume with three years of play at Ohio State and a number of appearances in U.S. Golf Association amateur events. He’s put on 20 pounds since his first Open, checking in at 6-foot, 145 pounds. He has also picked up at least a dozen mph of clubhead speed (now clocking in around 106-110 mph).
“He’s a completely different player,” said Doug Martin, Grimmer’s long-time swing coach.
Grimmer remains steeped in the same fundamentals. Martin, the head men’s golf coach at the University of Cincinnati, notes that the pair hasn’t made any significant changes since Grimmer got to college.
Grimmer has for some time hit a slight draw – maybe a yard or two – as his general flight. Martin, who played on the PGA Tour for much of the 1990s, understands the comments about how little Grimmer’s ball curves.
“There wasn’t anyone I ever played with on the PGA Tour that hit the ball as straight as he does,” Martin said.
Childhood friend Michael Misleh says caddying for Grimmer is pretty simple considering he’s often right down the middle. Misleh was on the bag at Pinehurst and will be toting again at Shinnecock.
Grimmer said his junior season at Ohio State wasn’t his best. He struggled with his swing, as a focus on building strength made him lose sight of maintaining flexibility. He lost clubhead speed in the process, but has gained 4-5 mph back after refocusing on flexibility.
He finished his junior season with a fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championship and “rode that momentum” through qualifying. Grimmer has become a more consistent putter, aided by his switch to a 35-inch flatstick from a 33 ¾-inch model during his sophomore year.
He’s known to be deadly accurate on his approach game, unafraid to fire mid- or long irons inside his teammates’ wedges. Grimmer is still on the shorter end distance-wise, but he’s grown comfortable with others hitting past him.
“It doesn’t get to him anymore,” Misleh said.
Grimmer enters this Open with more experience, a familiar caddie and a coach in Martin who played the major at Shinnecock (1995). There’s less a kid-in-the-candy-store feel this time and more a desire to show he can compete.
“I just feel like going into this, I’m definitely a better player mentally and physically,” Grimmer said. “And I have more shots.” Gwk