SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – By the time Timothy Wiseman finished his round Thursday evening at Shinnecock Hills, there were just three spectators left in the grandstand behind the ninth green. The grounds crew was already watering adjacent greens. And the clubhouse lights were shining brighter than the sun that was about to set behind the trees bordering the second hole.
Wiseman, a 21-year-old from Corydon, Ind., had opened his first U.S. Open with a 13-over 83. But in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter.
He was playing in a U.S. Open – and he had 18 family members, friends, coaches and teammates there to witness it, along with his older brother, Tommy, 22, who was on the bag.
“Take golf away from it, it’s a dream to be able to be out here,” said Wiseman, who punched his U.S. Open ticket a week earlier in a playoff at the Springfield, Ohio, sectional qualifier.
“Just soaking everything in, I really can’t even put it into words. But the support that I have here, that’s been my favorite part. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since I qualified.”
Wiseman, a rising senior at Ball State, is the 18th Cardinal since 1970 to participate in a U.S. Open, but the first to do so while still in college.
“Timothy is making history for our program,” said Ball State head coach Mike Fleck, who was at Shinnecock, “and this going to give him nothing but confidence, being in this environment, playing in this kind of field and knowing that he can compete.”
Fleck calls Wiseman a “fight and a grinder.” Wiseman isn’t the most talented golfer in Division I. He finished last season ranked 724th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, third-best on his team. But he also didn’t miss a round for the Cardinals as a junior and tied for third at this spring’s Mid-American Conference Championship.
Through 14 holes on a demanding Shinnecock layout that yielded a scoring average of 76.48, the highest in a U.S. Open first round since 1986 (also at Shinnecock), Wiseman was 8 over and ahead of top-10 pros Jason Day (9 over) and Rory McIlroy (10 over). But he made a quadruple bogey at the par-4 sixth, his 15th hole, and a bogey at par-3 seventh to fall into a tie for 148th.
“It wasn’t how he wanted to play,” said Tommy, who teamed with Timothy when they were younger to form a talented backcourt on the hardwood. “But we’ve got another shot tomorrow to make some noise.”
Even if Wiseman misses the cut, noise still will be made.
“I could’ve shot 100 today and I still would’ve had people supporting me,” Wiseman said. “That really does mean the world to me.”