ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Oklahoma State's Jordan Niebrugge -- the mysterious name on the leader board Thursday after shooting a five-under 67 -- took the road less traveled to the Open Championship. Less traveled that is for an American amateur.
Few of them these days make the effort to come to the U.K. to try their hand in British tournaments, the expense in time and money, and playing unfamiliar courses, making it an indulgence. Yet at the advice of his college coach, Alan Bratton, the 21-year-old from Mequon, Wis., committed to a trip across the Atlantic, playing the British Amateur at Carnoustie and the English Men's Amateur Stroke Play (Brabazon Trophy) before attempting to grab one of three spots available in a British Open final qualifier.
Sure enough, after losing in the first round of match play at the British Am and missing the cut at the Brabazon, the OSU senior-to-be earned a spot into the world's oldest tournament, claiming medalist honors at England's Hillside G.C. He then flew home and returned 10 days later to find himself in an unexpected place atop the Open leader board.