by Jeff Skinner
Some of the names on the leaderboard on the U.S. Open are familiar like Rory McIlroy who leads at 6 under. Some are difficult to pronounce like Louis Oosthuizen the British Open Champion. And some are unfamiliar to everyone except the player’s family and friends. One of those names is Chris DeForest.
Deforest is a 2011 graduate of the University of Illinois that is having the time of his life at Congressional Country Club. He qualified for The Open and then turned pro the same day and by his play today it certainly looks like a good call.
He had it going with birdies at six, eight and ten to get to three under par and a tie for second place. He found trouble at the eleventh when he put two balls in the pond, took two drops then made a brilliant chip to salvage a double bogey. He had three birdies , two bogeys and a double over the rest of his back nine but ended up at a very respectable even par for the day.
DeForest made his mark at Illinois finishing second in career wins to Steve Stricker another Illinois graduate. He also has seen Rory McIlroy before. In fact he beat him in a mixed four ball match with Mina Harigae at the 2004 Junior Ryder Cup.
Deforest grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley in the tiny village of Cottekill, New York. He was a Sectional Champion out of Rondout Valley High School and comes from a golfing family. His dad, who is caddying for him this week, is the club professional at Rondout Country Club and his brothers are serious golfers also.
Each year at the Open a name pops up on that leaderboard that we call the “Cinderella Story”. This year’s Cinderella is Chris DeForest.
DeForest thinks he is ready to mix it up with the big boys. This is his first tournament as a professional but he feels at home. He has a locker right next to world number one Luke Donald and is making the most of his chance.
Before the tournament he spoke of his dream to turn pro and his belief in himself. “I was always working hard to get my game ready for the Tour. I wanted to turn professional. I wanted to get a college degree and the day that was over, I wanted to turn pro and make a living out of it.”
“Some people might call it cocky, but I turned professional because I thought I could compete at this level,” said DeForest, a two-time, first-team Big 10 golfer. “Whether I play well enough or not, that’s yet to be seen.
Yes, it is yet to be seen but he is off to a great start.