BROOKLINE, Mass. – Nick Hardy may be a PGA Tour rookie, but when it comes to U.S. Opens, he’s been around the block a few times.
This week’s national championship at The Country Club will mark the 26-year-old Hardy’s fourth U.S. Open appearance. He made his debut at Chambers Bay in 2015 and tied for 52nd. He also qualified in 2016 and 2019, though he missed the cut both times.
“I’ve played in plenty of USGA events in my career now,” Hardy explained Tuesday. “I know how they’re set up. I know how to prepare for one. It’s easy to come in here and just enjoy being here, but I really feel like I’m ready to compete and contend.”
Full-field tee times from U.S. Open
Hardy has come a long way from his U.S. Open debut, where he remembers the nervous shakes he got standing over his ball on the first tee and being starstruck by warming up next to Tiger Woods on the practice green.
So, when he received the call last Friday after finishing his second round in Canada and found out that he was the 156th and final man into this week’s field as the first alternate out of the Springfield, Ohio, qualifier, Hardy was ready. (David Lingmerth is now technically the last man in the field after replacing Martin Kaymer, who withdrew on Saturday.)
In some ways, Hardy is still thankful to be here, but that has more to do with his health. Back in April, Hardy hit a full lob wedge on the fourth hole at the Zurich Classic and felt a pop in his left wrist.
“I was concerned,” Hardy recalls. “I felt a lot of pain but played the rest of the day through it.”
The next day Hardy underwent an MRI, which revealed that he had an ECU tendon subluxation and torn subsheath. Luckily, he didn’t tear the tendon and surgery wasn’t required, but he still was out a month.
“I couldn’t touch a club for 30 days,” he said. “I could putt, that was it.”
At the time of the injury, Hardy had made just five of 13 cuts in his rookie season on Tour with no top-25s. His T-21 at Zurich alongside Curtis Thompson marked his best finish of the year, though, and before the unfortunate wedge shot, he could feel his game turning a noticeable corner.
When he returned – at about 75%, he says – Hardy opted to play a home game on the Korn Ferry Tour. Despite not picking up a club until the Saturday before, he nearly won, falling to Harry Hall in a playoff at the NV5 Invitational at The Glen Club outside of Chicago.
“I came out ready to play and almost won,” said Hardy, who followed with a T-35 last week at the RBC Canadian Open. “I’m really positive about things moving forward.”
Hardy, who still wears a brace and ices his wrist daily, did take a minor medical, but he expects to get into most of the remaining Tour events this season, giving him ample opportunity to let good golf take care of everything.
And as Hardy knows, there’s no greater opportunity to do so than at a U.S. Open.