Erin - For the second straight year, Australia's Nick
Flanagan and Aron
Price will walk
the US Open fairways together.
This year's different, though. Flanagan,
who caddied for Price at Oakmont last year, will be playing at Erin Hills,
while Price will take his turn carrying Flanagan's bag.
"I definitely owed him
one," Price said.
This most unique of US Open
flip-flops has its roots in and around Sydney during the early 2000s, where
Price, 35, and Flanagan, who turned 33 on Tuesday, became friendly as they came
and went from the junior circuits in Australia.
They both moved to the US and
lived in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, for a time. Early this decade, they played
regularly on the Web.com tour. They roomed and hung out together on occasion,
and Flanagan even caddied for Price at US Open qualifying in 2014.
But the real seeds for this
pairing were set in 2003 at Oakmont, where Flanagan became the first foreign
winner of the US Amateur in 32 years. His name, along with those of Bobby
Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead are among those etched on a list
that hangs at the club, honouring all of Oakmont's champions. The course has
hosted more than a dozen major championships over the years.
Price qualified for the US Open
last year. Given his knowledge of the course - to say nothing of his fondness
for it - Flanagan approached Price about caddying.
Flanagan's biggest worry -
making sure he could carry the bag around for seven straight days. (Turns out,
he only needed to go five. Price didn't make the cut.)
This year, Flanagan went
through qualifying and earned his spot in the US Open, but Price didn't make
"Plenty of our friends who
caddie on tour, their players weren't in this week, so I didn't expect
it," Price said. "But I put my hand up and said, 'If you want me to
return the favour, I can do it.'"
Flanagan said "yes",
and now, a year later, both players can see the US Open from the other side.
"You learn a lot seeing
things from the outside, not having any emotion attached to how you're swinging
it or how you're hitting the golf ball," Flanagan said when asked what
he's learned as a caddie.
"It just seems a lot
easier from the outside than it does from the inside. If you can put yourself
in that mind-set when you're playing, it helps a ton."
Price and Flanagan know how the
other man thinks, and Price says his main goal is to get Flanagan to turn on
They're on the same page there.
"That's what I've been
trying to do all year, trying to be automatic," Flanagan said. "I've
played a lot of ... fun golf, having a few drinks on the course, playing really
well after two of them and realising I don't have to do anything different technically.
I just have to go out there and be free with it."
First, there is the matter of
trying to figure out Erin Hills.
Unlike Oakmont, neither player
had stepped foot on the supersized course until they arrived this week.
Then again, says Price, most
players haven't. Erin Hills is only 11 years old, and is hosting its first US
"You can't get bogged down
in the, 'Holy (expletive), I've never played this one.' Everyone's in the same
Well, not exactly.
More than most, these guys will
know exactly how the other one feels when the shots start flying for real on
"The motor inside knows
what to do," Price said.
"He just needs to turn the
ignition on. It's trying to get him to think less and just take his mind off
golf. It's, think about everything else, anything else, and just try to put it
where you want it to go."