124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2



Irish Open

Irish Open leader is obscure to American fans, but he holds one of States' greatest scoring records

September 09, 2023
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Hurly Long hits a tee shot in the Irish Open.

Ross Kinnaird

The 54-hole leader of the Irish Open is a 28-year-old German with only modest results on the DP World Tour. On Sunday at The K Club in Straffan, Hurly Long, ranked 252nd in the world, will be paired in the final group with home-country hero Rory McIlroy, with the World No. 2 shooting up the leaderboard with a 66 on Saturday that has him just two behind.

"I know he's going to be nervous," Long quipped of McIlroy.

American golf fans would have no reason to recognize Long’s name—he’s never played on tour in the States and his only major appearance was in this year’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

But Long did go to school here—first at the University of Oregon before transferring to Texas Tech—and beyond that, he owns one of the coolest course scoring records possible.

On Sept. 2, 2017, Long was playing in the collegiate Carmel Cup at Pebble Beach Golf Links. When he arrived at the par-3 17th tee, he was already nine under for the round and could overhear the caddies whispering about what the course record was on one of the most famous layouts in the world.

Two birdies later—from 45 feet on 17 and 10 feet on 18—they all had the answer. Long’s 11-under-par 61 was the lowest competitive score ever at Pebble Beach.

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Hurly Long holds up a flag from Pebble Beach after shooting the course record of 61. (Texas Tech Athletics photo)

Tom Kite and David Duval had previously shot 10-under 62s during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

“It’s very surreal,” Long said at the time. “Pebble Beach is just a special place. I was talking about it with my teammates — where else in the world would you want to have the course record? Maybe Augusta National? It’s a huge, huge honor.”

Long, who was six under through six holes, made 10 birdies and an eagle at the par-5 sixth (where he holed out a bunker shot) during the round. He also had a bogey at the difficult eighth when he flew his approach over the green.

Interestingly, the incredible round only got Long into a playoff for the tournament’s individual title, and he turned around and again made birdie on 18 to capture the only win of his college career.

On Sunday, Long will go for his first top-level pro win (he notched one victory on Europe’s Challenge Tour in 2020), and he’ll have to deal with the pressure of playing alongside the man who is arguably the most popular current player in the world.

Eight strokes off the lead at the outset, McIlroy finished six holes ahead of Long on Saturday, but gained a bunch of ground because the contenders mostly struggled on what seemed to be a perfect day for scoring.

"Yeah, it's really exciting," McIlroy said. "Last night, I thought I was maybe a little bit too far behind and out of it, but I've played a really good round of golf today to get myself back in it. Excited to have another opportunity tomorrow."

The Ulsterman is trying to win his second Irish Open, with the first having come at the K Club in 2016.

"It's hard to try to win your own national open and try to get over the line," said McIlroy, who earlier this summer denied Robert MacIntyre his own home win in the Scottish Open."I was in fortunate enough to do it a few years ago here and having those memories is going to be nice. And also having the support of the crowd out there, as well, is going to be incredibly helpful."