Sophomore Ricky Castillo will make his first PGA tour appearance in one of golf’s biggest tournaments this week.
Castillo punched his amateur ticket to the 2020 US Open by being the second ranked amateur golfer in the world in World Amateur Golf Ranking’s most recent rankings. He will compete in a stacked field that features the game’s best young faces, including Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and Bryson Dechambeau, as well as legends of the golf world like Phil Mickelson, Rory Mcilroy and Tiger Woods.
The last amateur to win the US Open was John Goodman in 1933. The last time an amateur won a PGA Tour event was 1991 when Phil Mickelson won the Northern Telecom Open. While winning may not be a realistic expectation for the young golfer, Castillo won’t shy away from the competition.
“It’s obviously going to be cool and stuff, but (the pros are) there for one reason — to win,” Castillo told the Orlando Sentinel. “That’s how I want to be. I’m there to play golf, just like them.”
Castillo’s first ever PGA Tour appearance will come at one of the toughest courses in the country: Winged Foot Golf Club. The course is located in Mamaroneck, New York. It’s a grueling 7,477 yard, par-70 track that even the greatest golfers have nightmares about.
"Well, I think it's right up there next to Oakmont and I think Carnoustie,as far as just sheer difficulty without even doing anything to it,'' Woods said during a pre-tournament news conference Tuesday. "I think those three golf courses, they can host major championships without ever doing anything to them.”
Despite being almost 7,500 yards long, Winged Foot is home to just two par-5s and is known for its brutally deep rough. Winged Foot last hosted the US Open in 2006. The winner, Geoff Ogilvy, won by shooting just five strokes under par. There was also the historic “Massacre at Winged Foot” in 1978, where champion Hale Irwin won the tournament despite shooting a 7-over-par.
"So far it seems very, very hard,'' No.1-ranked golfer Dustin Johnson told ESPN. "One of the harder ones I've ever played. But it's fair. There's nothing really tricky about it. You've just got to hit good shots.''
With his limited experience, Castillo could be in for a long few days. However, it’s an amazing experience for the 19-year-old, who gets to play alongside his childhood heroes, Mickelson and Woods.
Castillo is set to be one of the first golfers to tee off at Winged Foot. He will go off from the 10th tee Thursday morning at 7:01 a.m. Eastern time with 33-year-old lefty Brian Harman and Englishman Andy Sullivan.
The US Open will be shown live on the Golf Channel and NBC. It can be streamed all weekend through Peacock and USOpen.com as well.
Contact Michael Hull at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Michael_Hull33.