Thirty-one-year-old Englishman Callum Tarren grinded for years on mini tours across the globe without a major start. That changed in 2019 when he advanced to a U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Streamsong Resort, in Florida. With rounds of 64-68, Tarren won the event and punched his ticket to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. It was a dream scenario.
Now, all he had to do was get to the golf mecca.
The Sunday before U.S. Open week, Tarren and his team hopped a flight from Atlanta to San Francisco. That leg was no problem, but just as his connecting flight to Monterey was about to depart, a passenger dropped an iPhone charger in the doorway; when the door closed, it crushed the charger and damaged the door. Next thing Tarren knew, his flight had been cancelled and he was on his way to Monterey by way of a $450 taxi ride.
The airline told him his bags would arrive in Monterey on Monday morning, but you know how that goes. Come Monday morning, no clubs. They had been rerouted to New Orleans and Denver, and “no one knew why,” Tarren recalled at the time.
Tarren still played a practice round that day, just not with his own sticks; he borrowed a set from his countryman, Tyrrell Hatton. Tarren’s gamers didn’t reappear until Wednesday. Not an ideal start to your first major championship.
Surely, then, Tarren’s voyage to his second U.S. Open would go more smoothly, right?
Errr…not so much.
Earlier this month, Tarren earned a spot in The Country Club field by way of the sectional qualifier in Milton, Ontario. A few days later, he played in the RBC Canadian Open, in Toronto, his final tune-up before the U.S. Open. He shot 75-71 to miss the cut by five. Next stop: Brookline, Mass.
On Saturday, Tarren packed up and headed to the airport in Toronto, getting there four hours early, he said, “because people warned me it’s a nightmare up there.”
All was well until he arrived at the baggage claim in Boston to find — you guessed it — no clubs.
Adding to the sting: Tarren said there were five other U.S. Open contestants on his flight, and all of their bags made it. It didn’t take Tarren long to piece together the cruel coincidence. “It was the second U.S. Open I’ve played in,” he said, “and second time no golf clubs.”
Tarren didn’t let his misfortune get in the way of his preparation. On Sunday, he walked The Country Club with a wedge to get a feel for its subtleties. He made a call, too. Determined not to go two or three days without his babies, as he had at Pebble, Tarren dispatched an acquaintance to the Toronto airport to, as he put it, give “the airport staff a little kick.”
The pep talk worked. By 2 p.m. Sunday, Tarren and his clubs were reunited.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Appears so.
On Thursday, Tarren and his clubs got along swimmingly, teaming up for three birdies and an eagle — and a share of the early three-under 67 lead — in the first round of the U.S. Open. (Update: Adam Hadwin shot a late-afternoon 66 to grab the outright lead by one.)
If he keeps up his fine play, maybe Tarren can treat himself to a hassle-free trip home — by flying private.