Pinehurst, N.C. _
Donald Constable, the Minnesota native and former Gopher, is such an interesting guy I wasn't able to fit all the good stuff about him in today's column.
He also won a 2010 North-South Amateur at Pinehurst #2 in 2010.
He defended the championship in 2011, which means he's seen the transformation of the course from one with thick rough, to one with sand where the rough used to be, to one with sporadic tufts of wire grass in the sand.
``It's different,'' he said. ``It's a lot different. My last trip here, they had just done the re-do, and everything looked different. It was all really just sand. The little bushes were the size of your hand, so you could hit it anywhere. Now it's really filled out. No. 18 looks much narrower than it used to.
``I have good memories here.''
After graduating from Minnetonka High, Constable accepted a golf scholarship at the University of Texas. After two years at Texas, he transferred to the University of Minnesota.
Minnesota golfers are often asked how they can succeed without playing outside for months at a time.
``I played better golf once I got back to Minnesota,'' Constable said. ``Minnesota's got everything you need. They're going to start building an indoor facility for winter, which is the last step in having everything you need.
``They have a great short-game facility. It's a great spot to work on your game. I really learned a lot while I was there.''
Constable has the upper-body of a weightlifter.
``I lifted playing hockey, and even when I was playing golf in college,'' he said. ``Even now, I lift four or five days a week, even though it's more golf-specific stuff. I enjoy working out and going to the gym. I also like to look good when I go in the lake back home. So you’ve got to stay in shape.''
Yes, he said that with a smile.
Reached former Gophers golf coach Brad James via email on Tuesday to talk about his work with Rask, and his knowledge of Constable:
Here was James' email response:
``Both players have had a long journey to get to the U.S Open this week, both competing on many mini tour events with stints at the highest level for both of them. It’s always fun as a coach to watch how players develop and what pathways they take along the journey after high school and college golf.
``You’d like to think that you played some role on getting the player to where they are today. Both Clayton and Donald were extremely hard workers in college and certainly had the tools to take their games to the professional level. I hope the players take advantage of this opportunity to compete at the ultimate level and learn from the experience so they can have continued success after this week. I am sure a week competing on the world's stage will inspire them to work even harder so this is not just a one off experience.
``One of my favourite memories of Clayton Rask was on his first trip with the U of M team, Clayton woke up early and cooked eggs for breakfast for the entire team. I thought Clayton showed great leadership qualities back then. He was always close to his family and family always came first. I am sure his family is very proud of him this week I can only imagine the entire Rask family driving down to watch him play as they did for every college tournament. Go Gophers!''
I asked Rask how he'll handle his nerves while he's playing in his first U.S. Open. ``I want to take it all in, have fun, stay patient,'' he said. ``This is a grat opportunity just to play my game. This is what I have dreamed about doing and I’m here, so I’m going to take full advantage of it.''
I"ll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities at 12:15. I'll also co-host Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on Sunday, from Pinehurst.