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Former UNC golfer Ryan Gerard ready for US Open challenge

UNC golfer Ryan Gerard competes during the Rod Meyers Invitational at the Washington Duke Golf Club in Durham, NC

UNC golfer Ryan Gerard competes during the Rod Meyers Invitational at the Washington Duke Golf Club in Durham, NC

Photo courtesy of UNC athletics/Andy Mead

Ryan Gerard used YouTube before his US Open debut at The Country Club at Brookline to get an early glimpse of what he could expect from the historic golf course.

Francis Ouimet could never.

Of course it will take more than a good scouting report for Gerard, a Ravenscroft High School alum, who just exhausted his eligibility at North Carolina, to shock the golf world as Ouimet did in 1913 as an amateur winning at Brookline. But he’s ready to face the challenge of, what he hopes will be the first of many more major appearances, beginning Thursday.

“I’d love to make the cut, I’d love to make the top 10, I’d love to win, but I can’t really focus on the end result,” Gerard told the News & Observer. “I’m just trying to do my best and stay positive and stick to my plan. If I do that and have a good time out there, it’ll be a good week regardless of what the score is at the end of the week.”

Gerard, who earned All-America and all-ACC honors this season, took advantage of the COVID-19 waiver to play a fifth season at Carolina. Even though he’s no longer an amateur at the Open, he’s representing the Tar Heels.

“I got a nice, brand new bag with a big, block NC logo on the front of it, so that’ll be walking around with me everywhere this week,” Gerard said. “And one of my teammates, Luke Edwards is on the bag for me this week. So we’re just having a good time, wearing a lot of light blue. Saying Go Heels to everyone in the crowd that wants to hear it — or even may not want.”

Gerard withdrew from a PGA Tour Canada event in order to compete in Jupiter, Fla. at a US Open final qualifying event.

The top four finishers in the field of 70 earned the automatic qualifiers. Gerard tied for first, shooting a 5-under-par 137 last week at the Club at Admiral’s Cove.

He wasn’t competing against a bunch of amateurs either. He bested players with pedigree like that included PGA Tour regulars Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff, who was a top 15 finisher in last year’s US Open and finished as runner-up in 2020. Gerard’s co-medalist was 30-year-old Sean Jacklin, They are two-time major winner and 1970 US Open champion Tony Jacklin.

That provided him a bit of a confidence boost heading into Brookline. He’s surrounded by golfers he’s idolized and watched him grow up, but he’s not feeling overwhelmed by his surroundings.

“When you’re kind of walking around or in the locker room and you see major champions, Ryder Cup (participants), Hall of Famers — whoever it may be, it’s pretty cool just kind of to be in the same room as them and to be one of their peers, even if it’s just for one week at this at this point,” Gerard said.

There’s also a bit of comfort from competing alongside a peer — and former UNC teammate. Austin Greaser, a rising senior at UNC, is just a few lockers down from Gerard. Greaser qualified for the US Open field last summer after a second-place finish in the 2021 US Amateur.

“I’ve seen him quite a few times,” Gerard said. “It’s cool to have two Tar Heels in the same in the same tournament especially just finishing college about a month ago, or I was, he’s still in college, but there’s a lot of cool things going on here.”

The history of the venue has added to Gerard’s excitement. Brookline is one of the original five founding clubs of the US Golf Association. It’s been host to the US Open four times, and was the scene for the United States’ stunning rally to win the 1999 Ryder Cup.

“It’s definitely a good feel and it has a nice vibe to it,” Gerard said. “I’m glad that it I’m getting to play out here because I really enjoy it. It’s a really fun, hard, test of golf. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

This story was originally published June 16, 2022 12:12 PM.

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CL Brown covers the University of North Carolina for The News & Observer. Brown brings more than two decades of reporting experience including stints as the beat writer on Indiana University and the University of Louisville. After a long stay at the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he earned an APSE award, he’s had stops at ESPN.com, The Athletic and even tried his hand at running his own website, clbrownhoops.com.

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