How two former Green Hope High School golfers fared in the 2024 US Open at Pinehurst

Golf is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?

But what about playing in the U.S. Open? Is that fun?

“Not really,” Brendon Todd said Sunday.

That was a predictable answer. For everyone but the winner, the U.S. Open champion, it can be 72 holes of gut-wrenching moments, of chest-sighing relief after good shots and the dread of seeing off-line shots miss greens or go awry.

Especially at Pinehurst No. 2.

“This place can eat you up and spit you out pretty quick,” Ben Kohles said Sunday.

Todd and Kohles both played prep golf for Cary’s Green Hope High School, both helping the Falcons to state championships. Todd, five years older than Kohles at 39, went to Georgia and Kohles to Virginia, the two taking different paths to the PGA Tour.

Todd, a three-time winner on the tour, now has played No. 2 twice in Open conditions. After a 5-over 75 Sunday, he finished at 14-over 294, near the bottom of the field of those who made the 36-hole cut.

In 2014, Todd tied for 17th at 284 after a final-round 69. And while No. 2 is No. 2, hard under any conditions, he said there was a difference this year, notably on greens that were bentgrass in 2014 but have since been converted to Champion Bermudagrass.

“It’s not set up for a high percentage of your good shots to be rewarded,” Todd said. “There are a significant number of good shots in the U.S. Open that do not end up on the green.

“As one of the best golfers in the world, which all the guys in this field are, to feel like your best shots don’t get rewarded is a special challenge that you really have to embrace.”

Ben Kohles reacts after putting on the 16th green during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament.
Ben Kohles reacts after putting on the 16th green during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament.

Kohles said he first played No. 2 on his 14th birthday with his father, laughing and saying there is still a “debate” on who shot 97 and who had a 98 that day.

“To make it here all these years later and have my dad out here (on Father’s Day) watching, and being a dad myself, you can’t write it up any better,” he said.

Kohles was in no mood to talk Saturday after a 76 in the third round that had him double-bogeying the 18th hole. Kohles turned with an even-par 35 on the front nine, then shot 41 on the back.

Eat and spit out? Yep, he felt that way.

But Sunday was better. Kohles, 34, had a 1-over 71 to close at 12-over 292 . He had another big stumble and double bogey — at the par-4 seventh hole — but managed a smile while discussing his week and this third career major championship appearance.

“Oh, man, what a blast,” Kohles said. “It played hard all week but I was proud of how I battled that second round. It was pretty cool to just give myself a chance to play the weekend, right? It’s something to learn from, something to keep growing with my game.”

Kohles was a near winner this year at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas. At the final hole, he mishit a shot from high grass around the green, missed a five-foot par putt and lost by a shot to Taylor Pendrith.

“I was a little unfortunate, but that’s golf,” he said.

But Kohles liked his play at the PGA Championship — “I played awesome,” he said of his 67-68 finish — and came to Pinehurst hoping be patient and grind his way into contention. That didn’t happen, but he would not let himself be overly disappointed.

“I played great all week,” Kohles said. “Even yesterday, when I was 6 over, I hit , whoone bad iron shot all day. I mean, this place is so fine. Normally on tour, where the courses are tough, you have so much more room for error.

“But I just feel like this is sharpening the knife, making my game just that much sharper. I’m just proud of hanging in there.”