Joseph Bramlett feels right at home at Pebble Beach
June 12, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Joseph Bramlett will be making his second-career U.S. Open appearance at Pebble Beach. (Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
It’s an unfair question, but Joseph Bramlett has a pretty good answer.
“What’s your favorite hole at Pebble Beach?”
The San Jose, California – about 90 minutes from the host of this week’s U.S. Open – resident ponders for a second. Says with a laugh the question isn’t fair. Then he says it’s number five.
Not No. 7, one of the most picturesque holes in professional golf? Or No. 18, which, he says later, is his ‘favorite place in the whole world?’
No, it’s the par-3 5th. An Oceanside hole re-designed by Jack Nicklaus 20 years ago, Bramlett made an ace on that hole while in high school.
“It’s kind of a sleeper hole. It doesn’t get much attention,” he says. “But if we had to pick one hole that I’ve had a special attachment to, it’s No. 5. Every time I get there I think back to the hole-in-one I had and those feelings and that moment and it’s very special to me.”
Bramlett qualified for his second U.S. Open (both at Pebble Beach. He missed the cut in 2010) via a 3-for-2 playoff at the sectional site in Rockville, Maryland. He said whenever the U.S. Open heads back to Pebble Beach it always stands out, although he admits with a laugh it’s not like the other U.S. Opens cause him to say, ‘meh, I don’t really want to play this year.’
“Every U.S. Open is a great opportunity,” he says, “but Pebble Beach makes it more special.”
Bramlett says he’ll have quite a bit of fan support this week, with it being nearly a hometown major. He’s been lucky enough to play a handful of times at Pebble Beach, ranked near the top of any major golf course ranking for clubs in the United States. This time around, he says, he’ll be feeling more comfortable than his debut nearly a decade ago.
“I was expecting it to be hard, but I was expecting if I played well I’d get it going,” he says. “But my jaw hit the floor when I realized how tough the golf course played, how firm the greens were, how small they were. The course played totally different.”
Bramlett has already had his ‘holy crap’ moment, so he says he’ll feel much more at ease.
The Stanford University alum – he played his first U.S. Open in 2010 one week after graduating – has a variety of ways to look at success this week. Just getting to play in the event, to begin, is a success. A couple years ago Bramlett wasn’t even playing golf, so now that he’s back playing competitively he’s excited for the opportunity.
“It was crazy coming back to Pebble Beach, and here I am, playing the U.S. Open again. I feel like I’ve come a really long way in that regard,” he says. “It’s a massive success.”
But Bramlett is a competitor. He admits his season on the Web.com Tour in 2019 has been a bit up-and-down – he’s missed more cuts than he would have liked, but when he does find the weekend, he’s usually within shouting distance of a solid finish – but he comes into the U.S. Open have made four straight cuts and sits 37th on the season-long points race.
“I want to win,” he says of his ultimate goal this week. “Winning a golf tournament is success. That doesn’t happen very often and there are a lot of other ways we have to end up measuring success – learning, growing, improving – and I’m going to gain a lot of experience this week which is going to be a success as well, to prepare me for hopefully more U.S. Opens down the road.”
Bramlett says his game, in general, fits a U.S. Open layout. He’s 16th on the Web.com Tour in Driving Distance, 14th in Greens in Regulation, and 34th in Driving Accuracy – so he’s had a solid year in some key stats as it relates to success at the U.S. Open. His putting, he says, has improved dramatically since last year.
“The putting is night and day better than last year,” he says. “My ball-striking is my strong suit. I can keep the ball in play. My distance control is very solid. Day-in and day-out I hit the ball pretty good compared to most guys. I absolutely feel this type of championship favors me if I do the things I’m capable of doing.”
So Bramlett returns to Pebble Beach this week, the scene of his first major championship appearance, with family and friends there to support him and good momentum, too. He’ll get to the par-3 5th and soak in the atmosphere of his favorite hole on the property, then play the idyllic No. 7, then get to the 18th tee and he’ll realize he’s standing on his favorite place on earth.
But hopefully this spiritual experience leads to a good result, too.
“I want a shot to get into contention and feel that U.S. Open pressure and feel how my body and mind respond. I want to win the tournament,” he says. “That’s why I’m here.”