Roman Robledo Jr. began the week confident and filled with hope. And why not? The 24-year-old 2011 Harlingen South graduate had qualified for the 117th U.S. Open golf tournament and was headed from his home in Houston to Erin, Wisconsin, fully expecting to overcome the odds and win.
“I’m excited to be playing in this tournament, but I’m approaching it as a way to move up the ladder and not as an event that I won’t ever play in again,” he said a few days before the tournament began. “Golf is a funny game where anything can happen and I just plan on staying in the moment, and if I do that I think anything can happen.”
Unfortunately, what happened was he discovered that he still has a long way to go if he hopes to one day become one of golf’s elite.
After starting things off relatively well on Thursday, Robledo struggled down the stretch and found himself toward the bottom of the leaderboard.
“It was a grind out there, to say the least,” he said after firing an opening-round 6-over-par 78. “I wouldn’t say I played bad, it’s just a tough course.”
Indeed, Erin Hills Golf Course proved to be very difficult as the top three players in the world – Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day – all failed to make the cut.
“They make it difficult out here for us because this is supposed to be a field with the best golfers in the world,” Robledo said.
Despite his rough first day, Robledo remained optimistic heading into Day 2 and hoped to make up ground Friday. But after starting the day off with a bogey on the par-4 10th hole, things went down hill fast and before he knew it he was 8-over par and at the bottom of the field.
He managed to claw his way back to finish the day at 7-over-par 79, but he finished the tournament a disappointing 13-over 157. Only three other golfers finished worse.
Robledo admitted that things could have gone better in Wisconsin, but he remains focused and optimistic about his future. And why not?
“It was more than I could ever expected,” he said of his experience at Erin Hills. “It was a wonderful learning experience that will be put into my game immediately.
“I know I didn’t play well, but it was a beatdown I needed so that I learn how to play the game differently and learn what I need to do to become better. Next year will be a different story because I’ll be better prepared.”
The 118th US Open will be played at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., next year. Look out New York. Roman is coming.