The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Gordon Sargent takes aim at U.S. Open

Gordon Sargent will make his second professional appearance at the U.S. Open this weekend at the Los Angeles Country Club.
Gordon+Sargent+competes+at+the+Frederica+Cup+on+September+7%2C+2022+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29.+
Vanderbilt Athletics
Gordon Sargent competes at the Frederica Cup on September 7, 2022 (Vanderbilt Athletics).

After his professional debut at The Masters in April, Gordon Sargent — Vanderbilt’s standout sophomore — is ready to battle the best players in the world again. He will be making his second professional appearance at the U.S. Open this week in Los Angeles. Sargent advanced through U.S. Open Final Qualifying earlier this month, winning his regional tournament with a score of -13 after shooting 64 and 67 on what is known as “golf’s longest day.” 

At The Masters, he finished with a total score of +9, missing the cut by six shots and ending his week earlier than he had hoped. Sargent couldn’t quite find his stride on the greens, hitting uncharacteristically poor chip shots and missing short putts. He will likely prioritize his approach play and short game in the leadup to the U.S. Open. 

It seems Sargent wasn’t entirely satisfied with his finish at The Masters, and he is hungry to make his presence known at the U.S. Open. 

The course

The 2023 U.S. Open will be held on the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) for the first time ever. LACC will test players with quick, sloping greens and firm fairways. The bermuda rough will also pose a big challenge to all players as the quality of lies are inconsistent and balls can often randomly “jump” from the rough. 

The North Course is long, playing at roughly 7,400 yards for the U.S. Open. With Sargent’s exceptional driving ability, this length shouldn’t pose as much of an issue as it will for other players. However, there will be multiple times a round in which Sargent will face long approach shots into heavily sloping greens. The par-3 7th hole measures at 284 yards on the scorecard, a tough task for any player in the field. If he can drive the ball successfully like he did at The Masters, hopefully the rest of his game will fall into place. 

Sophomore success

Sargent has had a record-breaking sophomore season. He topped the program record for most individual victories at Vanderbilt with five collegiate wins in his first two years. Sargent added three individual titles in his sophomore season at the East Lake Cup, The Hayt and the Mason Rudolph Championship. All were convincing wins as Sargent was able to masterfully defeat the rest of the field. 

Consistency has been key to Sargent’s overall success this year, earning him his No. 2 world amateur golf ranking. Sargent displayed his dominance in college golf this season, placing in the top-10 in 11 of the 12 tournaments he played in this season. These consistently high finishes earned him Golfweek’s 2022-23 Men’s College Golf Player of the Year

While collegiate tournaments can’t compare to the pressure and difficulty of major championships at the professional level, Sargent is accustomed to producing low rounds of golf. He knows how to win, and his ability to attack pins while staying conservative on others make many believe Sargent is ready for the professional stage. 

Recipe for success

In order to find success at the U.S. Open this week, Sargent will first need to make sure he is driving the ball to his normal standard. If he can hit the ball with his 190+ mph ball speeds in the fairway, he should have shorter clubs into the long par-4s. However, hitting fairways at LACC is extremely important, and Sargent will need to find the fairway to score low. 

As with many U.S. Opens, the golf course will be tough. Par is often a good score, and birdies are an added bonus. Sargent will need to carefully decide which hole locations are attackable and which require more conservative approach shots. Avoiding double bogeys or worse will keep Sargent alive and in the hunt. 

Sargent’s wedge play and putting will need to be solid as well. His ability to get up-and-down from tough lies in the rough will eliminate big numbers on the scorecard.

 Limiting costly mistakes is going to be the key to Sargent’s success. 

Big picture

Sargent has again found himself in another major championship. He has two rounds of professional golf under his belt as a 20-year-old and is looking to prove himself in his second professional start. 

Luke List, a member of the Vanderbilt Class of 2007, will also be competing in the U.S. Open this weekend. Hopefully, he can be a familiar face to Sargent in the leadup to the tournament. 

Sargent has been playing exceptionally well this year and a successful finish at the U.S. Open would be the cherry on top to a standout season. 

Sargent has the game and mental stamina to do well in the U.S. Open. He just needs to use the strengths of his golf game to conquer the beast that is the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club. 

Sargent will be teeing off on Thursday at 4:29 a.m. CDT with Thomas Pieters and Aaron Wise. 

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About the Contributor
Henry Oelhafen
Henry Oelhafen, Deputy Sports Editor
Henry Oelhafen (‘26) is a student in Peabody College majoring in human and organizational development and minoring in business. Henry grew up as a Vanderbilt sports fan and loves to talk about both professional and amateur golf. In addition to writing, he loves to play golf with friends, hike and try new restaurants. He can be reached at [email protected].
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