Spencer Tibbits can vividly remember watching the 2008 U.S. Open, when his childhood idol, Tiger Woods, orchestrated a miraculous victory while playing with an injured left knee.
It is one of the Oregon State sophomore’s favorite golf memories. Now, after a breakout season, Tibbits will get a chance to create his own memories and play in one of the world’s most prestigious tournaments.
Tibbits became just the third Oregon State golfer to ever qualify for the U.S. Open after shooting 7-under 137 at a sectional qualifier in Walla Walla, Washington, last week. He finished tied for second at the qualifier and will begin round-one play at Pebble Beach at 2:42 p.m. Thursday.
“I was nine at the time,” Tibbits said while reflecting on Woods’ 2008 victory. “I just remember watching that and dreaming about playing at a tournament like that. Now, 11 years later, I’m gonna be there.”
Tibbits became the first Oregon State golfer since 2014 to garner all-Pac-12 honors after receiving honorable mention following this past season. He led the Beavers in scoring average at 71.56 and registered four top-10 finishes on the season.
Just 15 amateurs qualified for this year’s U.S. Open, five of which have links to Pac-12 schools. Along with Tibbits, Devon Bling (UCLA), Stewart Hagestad (USC), Michael Thorbjornsen (a Stanford signee) and Brandon Wu (Stanford) all made the cut.
Tibbits finished 46th at the Pac-12 Championships and tied for 31st at the NCAA Regionals. He believes that teeing off against a loaded field of Pac-12 competition week in and week out has helped shape his game and prepared him to compete with top players.
“They’re the best players in the world,” Tibbits said of the Pac-12’s players. “When I’m not winning any of those — when you’re getting around 25th or 30th place, it’s easy to get down on the results. But just thinking about it, the guys in the Pac-12 are definitely the best in the entire world. It’s something that’s definitely helped me.”
When he begins play Thursday, it won’t mark Tibbits’ first time stepping foot at Pebble.
“It’s funny because my parents and I actually talk about how the last time the U.S. Open was at Pebble Beach in 2010, we were down there at the time,” Tibbits said. “I actually got to putt on the green at Pebble for a little bit — just to see what the green was like. I just remember doing that and didn’t realize that the next time the U.S. Open was at Pebble Beach, I would be playing in it.”