JUPITER, Fla. — Bryan Haase can relate to how Stephen Anderson, Gary Nicklaus and Garrett Green were feeling on Sept. 5.
A few months earlier, Haase was the odd man out among a trio of players fighting for the final two spots in a U.S. Public Links qualifier. But this time it was Haase who emerged out of a four-man playoff to earn a trip to the upcoming U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Haase had to fend off his competitors over three playoff holes, ultimately carding a birdie on the final hole at the North Palm Beach Country Club to earn his spot for the Mid-Amateur, which takes place at the Country Club of Birmingham, starting on Oct. 5.
“You’ve just got to play good in those qualifiers and let the cards fall where they fall,” said Haase, a 2002 TC West graduate, who now lives in Florida. “I didn’t feel a whole lot of pressure. I kind of thought I was the underdog and played with a chip on my shoulder. It happened to work out.”
R.J. Nakashian shot a 69 to win the qualifier, while T.J. Shuart and Robbie Wight finished with 71s as all three advanced to the amateur tournament. That left one opening for the next four, who all had 72s. On the first playoff hole Green was eliminated after the other three recorded pars. Nicklaus, the son of PGA legend Jack Nicklaus, hit into the lake on the next hole — a par 3 — while Haase and Anderson two-putted to keep their hopes alive. On the next hole Haase edged Anderson by one stroke to punch his ticket.
“Obviously excited,” Haase said. “I’ve never gone to it before. It should be an exciting experience. I went out for it a few times and never made it. A couple of my good buddies made it last year and they said it was great. You get taken care of real well. Good food, nice golf and camaraderie. I’m looking forward to it, getting to experience that.”
Haase has played twice in the U.S. Amateur Public Links, but has missed out on qualifying for the Mid-Amateur. He’s come as close as being the alternate a handful of times.
“They’re hard to get in,” he said. “But if you play enough of them, and you play decent golf, I guess anybody can make it, right?”
Haase will leave for the tournament on Wednesday and is scheduled to play practice rounds on Thursday and Friday, along with a friend from college who also qualified. The tournament is Saturday and Sunday, with the top 64 advancing to match play.
Haase moved to Florida after attending Eastern Michigan to “play some golf and stay warm.” He manages to get out three or four times per week and has been shooting around par as he prepares to compete in the Mid-Amateur, where his goals are modest.
“I want to just go there and have fun,” he said. “I want to play well, but I want to have fun. It’s just two rounds and if you put all that pressure on yourself, you know the date’s coming up, I see no reason to do that. If I don’t play well, then I don’t play well. I’m just going to try hard and have fun.”