BROOKLINE, Mass. — The Masters may be a tradition unlike any other, but it seems like every year at the US Open a golfer that few people in the United States know much about gets to the top of the leaderboard. This year, it’s Callum Tarren, a 31-year-old from Darlington, England, who is competing in his second US Open.
Thursday morning, after teeing off in the first group off the 10th tee at 6:45 am ET with Fran Quinn and Hayden Buckley, Tarren made a bogey. He followed that up with eight consecutive pars and made the turn in a respectable 36 (1 over). He played his next nine holes in 31 however, for a 67 that left his name alongside Rory McIlroy, David Lingmerth and Joel Dahmen atop the leaderboard at the 122nd US Open.
Here are five things to know about Tarren and his days at The Country Club.
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How did he get into the US Open?
Callum Tarren puts on the ninth green during the first round of the US Open golf tournament. (Photo: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)
Tarren attended Radford University in Virginia and was the captain of the school’s golf team as a junior and senior. He graduated with a degree in marketing in 2014. He made two starts on the Europro Golf Tour in 2015 and missed the cut in each, but wound up on the PGA Tour China. He played well enough to get onto the Web.com Tour in 2019. He finished No. 15 in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to earn his PGA Tour card for 2021-22.
Tarren earned a spot in the field at the 2022 US Open by tying for second at the US Open Sectional qualifier held at Rattlesnake Point Golf Club in Milton, Ontario, Canada, one shot behind Jonas Blixt.
Should we have seen Thursday’s 67 coming?
Callum Tarren (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
So far this season on the PGA Tour, Tarren’s scoring average is 71.609, which ranks 161st. In 17 PGA Tour events this season, Tarren has missed the cut 10 times, including in his most-recent start at last week’s RBC Canadian Open. The lowest score he has shot in a PGA Tour event is a 65 in the second round of the Puerto Rico Open, where he finished tied for fifth to earn his lone top 10. He shot 66 in the final round of the Honda Classic, where he finished T-30.
Did he see today coming?
“I’m kind of pinching myself,” he said after signing his card on Thursday. “I didn’t realize it was on the top of the leaderboard until I pulled that final put on the 9th hole. Just excited with my start, and let’s see what the next few days holds.”
Tarren added, “My caddie just kept saying, fairways, greens, pars are really good in a US Open. I think I made a birdie on one to get to even and then gave it straight back. I knew there were chances coming in, so I kind of stayed patient and tried to execute the golf shots I had in front of me, and happily I did.”
Luggage trouble, twice
Callum Tarren plays a shot onto the second green during the first round of the US Open golf tournament. (Photo: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)
This is Tarren’s second US Open and for the second time, he had to deal with travel and luggage issues.
After qualifying for the 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach, Tarren flew from Atlanta to San Francisco on Sunday before US Open week began. He planned to continue on to Monterey, California, which is the closest airport to Pebble Beach, but a mechanical issue caused the flight to be canceled. Tarren wound up taking a $450 taxi ride from San Francisco to Monterey. His gear was supposed to arrive at Monterey airport Monday morning, and his luggage did come, but his clubs wound up being re-routed to New Orleans and then Denver. He practiced with borrowed clubs before his set arrived on Wednesday.
This year, Tarren flew from Toronto to Boston on Saturday.
“I got here, no clubs,” he said. “There were five other players on my flight. They all got golf clubs, so it was the second US Open I’ve played in and second time no golf clubs.”
This time, however, someone went to the airport, informed the staff of what happened and his clubs arrived on Sunday at 2:00 pm
“It wasn’t bad.”
What’s the strength of his game?
Callum Tarren lines up a putt on the ninth hole during the third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans golf tournament. (Photo: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports)
On Thursday at The Country Club, Tarren played the kind of golf that is associated with success at US Opens. He hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation, scrambled well and needed just 28 putts. As the afternoon wave played its opening round, Tarren ranked ninth in strokes gained putting.
Those stats don’t match with what we have seen from Tarren so far on the PGA Tour. Tarren is long off the tee, averaging 310.7 yards per tee shot (which is 21st on tour), but he struggles in nearly every other major category, including strokes gained putting, where he ranks 163rd (-0.24). Collectively, his strokes gained total of -0.639 ranks 169th on tour.