Aaron Rai: Playing in the US Open was amazing
Aaron Rai insisted playing at the US Open had been an ‘amazing experience’.
The former Shropshire & Herefordshire golfer enjoyed a great start to his Major championship debut in the first round on Thursday. The 22-year-old was in the third group out and birdied the par-five first to claim an early share of the lead.
He ended day one with a one-over-par 73 but a round of 80 on day two meant he missed the cut. But the Patshull Park member, who has recorded two victories on the Challenge Tour this season, insisted he had enjoyed his experience.
“It was great,” Rai said. “It was an amazing experience although I wasn’t aware of sharing the lead after one hole – maybe 71 holes early!”
Rai booked his place at Erin Hills by winning the 36-hole international qualifying event at Walton Heath and another win on the Challenge Tour would secure automatic promotion to the European Tour.
“It’s been a fantastic season so far, I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” added Rai, whose Kenya-born mother was on-site to witness his victory in the Barclays Kenya Open in March. “You have to treat each tournament as similar as possible.
“I know you see a lot of faces that you recognise on TV, but I think you still have to approach it the same way that you approach most tournaments, whether that’s a Challenge Tour event or a US Open.
“It’s amazing to get a taste of it and it would be fantastic to have more opportunities in the future.”
At 7,845 yards, Erin Hills was the longest course in Major championship history, but Rai was not one of the players to complain about the deep rough lining the fairways.
“I thought it was a great course,” he added. “It’s a very good test but it’s also fair at the same time. If you play well, get the ball in position and hit some good approach shots the greens are perfect so you can give yourself some chances.
“But if you’re a little bit out on all of those you could run up some numbers on any hole. It was tough but very fair.”