Ten years ago this summer, a hotshot kid from Fort Worth, Texas, turned the amateur golf world on its ear with a dominating string of performances that included wins at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and the Porter Cup, and a semifinal appearance in the 99th edition of the U.S. Amateur.
Hunter Haas actually began his amazing run by winning medalist honors at the 1999 Big 12 Championships that spring. A senior at the University of Oklahoma at the time, Haas would set the stage for what has been a successful professional golfing career with his unforgettable summer run.
In a little less than two weeks, another OU golfer " also by way of Fort Worth " will have an opportunity to make his mark at the U.S. Publinks event. Liam Logan, a junior, will have the luxury of playing in front of his home fans on his home college course " the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
That's where the 84th edition of the Publinks will unfold July 13-18 " the same course where Haas produced some of his most memorable moments, including the day he qualified for the '99 Publinks by posting a competitive course record of 65.
While the comparisons between Haas and Logan aren't all that realistic at this point " Haas was at a more advanced stage of his career when his game took flight that summer " Logan would like nothing better than to forever link his name to Haas and a lot of other great golfers with a Publinks victory.
"Honestly, I didn't know that much about Hunter, other than the fact he was a great player at OU, until recently," said Logan, who met Haas for the first time recently at the Publinks media day. "It would be unbelievably cool to follow in his footsteps. I'm excited about qualifying and especially having the chance to play the tournament here on our course.
"I'm sure I'll be nervous, but I know this course as well as anyone, and I'll bring a lot of confidence with me."
Logan earned his spot into the Publinks field by shooting an impressive 10-under-par during the 36-hole qualifying event at Oklahoma City's Lincoln Park West Course last month. The 20-year-old has been working extensively on his game in preparation, which includes getting lessons from Randy Smith, golf guru at Royal Oaks in Dallas.
"It's a great tournament with a lot of great players, so I know I need to be on top of my game. Right now, I feel good about the way I'm playing, and I think it's going to be fun."
Haas understands the pressure that comes with playing in a USGA-hosted event, especially when the head-to-head match-play portion kicks in. And while he isn't that familiar with Logan's overall game, he believes the comforts of home will be to his advantage.
"It certainly isn't going to hurt that they are going to be playing on their home course and sleeping in their own beds at night," said Haas, referring to Logan and OU assistant golf coach Phillip Bryan, who also qualified. "I'd love to see Liam and Phillip go out and make a run at this thing. This caliber of tournament coming to the OU course is great exposure " having the local guys play well would be an added bonus."
The tournament is open to the public and there is no admission fee.
Call the OU Golf Club for more information at 325-6716. "Jay C. Upchurch