June 25, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- The past 41 days have been like a dream for former University of Iowa women's golfer Chelsea Harris. On Thursday, Harris' U.S. Women's Open dream turns to reality.
"This is turning real," said Harris, who closed out her Hawkeye career in 2012. "It wasn't really before, but now it is turning real."
Harris will tee off in the first group at 5:45 a.m. (CT) Thursday at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. She will play alongside Ayako Uehara and Jamie Hullet, starting on the first hole. The group will tee off on hole No. 10 for their second round at 11:30 a.m. (CT) Friday.
The field of 156 players will be cut to the low 60 scores and ties before the weekend.
"I am going into the U.S. Open with no expectations, it is a good experience either way. I want to play well and make the cut, but I am trying to go at it level-headed and trying not to get too excited or too nervous. I am going out there and I will suck it all in and prepare just like any other tournament."
Former Hawkeye Chelsea Harris
Since playing her way into the 68th U.S. Women's Open through the Wheaton, Ill., qualifier on May 14, Harris has spent the past month working on basic fundamentals to ensure she is prepared for her Open debut.
"I have been focusing on my confidence level and making sure I put in the time and work hard," she said. "I don't want to step up to a shot when I am out there and feel anxiety because I haven't practiced it.
"I have been hitting basic shots with a touch for short game around the greens. I am going to miss greens out there, so it's the simple stuff."
Harris traveled to Southampton, N.Y., on Sunday and spent Monday playing a practice round at Sebonack Golf Club. She also plans on practicing and playing a few holes on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Harris, a native of Normal, Ill., is entering the tournament with her long-time swing coach John Platt serving as her caddy. It came down to Platt or her younger brother, Nolan, to man her bag.
"I usually have my brother caddy for me, but it is the U.S. Open, and he is going to be nervous for me," she said. "You tend to feed off your caddy's energy. My brother is one of my best friends, and I know him so well, so I know when he is nervous. I don't want to feed off that energy.
"My swing coach, John, I have been with since I was 13. He knows my game very well and if I hit a bad shot, it's not the end of the world... he's going to help me through it. He is separated enough that I won't feel his nervousness, and he is close enough as to where he can keep me calm."
Harris hasn't spent much time studying up on Sebonack leading into tournament week, but she is ready to leave it all on the table come Thursday.
"I am going into the U.S. Open with no expectations, it is a good experience either way," said Harris, who will have a contingent of a dozen or so family members in attendance. "I want to play well and make the cut, but I am trying to go at it level-headed and trying not to get too excited or too nervous.
"I am going out there and I will suck it all in and prepare just like any other tournament."
It just so happens "any other tournament" is the 2013 U.S. Women's Open, and Harris is living out a dream.