Jon Rahm’s U.S. Open replacement taking full advantage of opportunity at Pinehurst

When Jon Rahm withdrew and closed the door on his chances of winning another U.S. Open on Tuesday, another door opened for Jackson Suber.

Suber, who attended Ole Miss and has missed four straight cuts on the Korn Ferry Tour, took Rahm’s spot in the field as the first alternate at Pinehurst No. 2. He has since taken full advantage of the opportunity.

The former Ole Miss Rebel shot an impressive 1-under 71 in his major championship debut, all while playing alongside Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama in one of the featured groups. It’s an impressive accomplishment for anyone, let alone someone who has played in only two events on the PGA Tour.

Yet, the most remarkable aspect of Suber’s performance was not the round itself—instead, it was the rollercoaster he had to take just to become an alternate in this year’s field.

Suber posted 7-under par at the 36-hole final qualifier in Rockville, Maryland. No doubt a solid score, but it was not good enough. He missed a spot in the U.S. Open by a stroke and instead had to go to a 3-for-2 playoff to determine two alternate spots.

“In that qualifier, I had a six-footer on the last hole, and ended up missing that to get to a playoff [for a final spot],” Suber explained.

Jackson Suber, U.S. Open

Jackson Suber hits from a bunker during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Open.
Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images

“I went into the playoff and was pretty bummed but ended up on the third hole making a 50-foot putt for birdie, while my opponent missed a five-footer. It was a very roller coaster week, just like this has been. I heard that I had a chance to get in, almost be the last man in the field, and then ended up being the first alternate with how things shook down at the Memorial. It’s just been a roller coaster.”

He then arrived in Pinehurst, North Carolina, on Sunday evening, hoping somebody would pull out to give him a chance. If nobody did, he had a flight booked to Wichita, Kansas on Tuesday evening for this week’s tournament on the Korn Ferry Tour.

But in a weird twist of fate, one of the biggest stars in professional golf turned Suber’s hopes into a reality.

“I was on the 8th hole, and I got a tip from someone. They said Rahm was pulling out. I wasn’t sure yet, but I was freaking out,” Suber said.

“No. 8 and 9 didn’t get much done in my practice round. When we were on the 9th, we started getting announcements, and my phone started blowing up; people were asking me if I was getting in, and then I called Reese from the USGA pretty quickly and tried to figure out what was going on and if I was going to be playing.

“That was just a really cool moment, especially to figure out I’m getting in the tournament out on the golf course and then be able to call my family and people around me who help me so much. It was a really special moment.”

Since Rahm withdrew after the USGA released the pairings for this year’s tournament, Suber slid in alongside Spieth and Matsuyama.

Best of all, Suber beat them both on Thursday, finishing in red figures while the two major champions failed to break par.

“I talked to Hideki and his caddie a little bit and talked to Jordan and [his caddy] Michael [Greller], as well, and my caddie talked to them, too,” Suber said about playing with Spieth and Matsuyama.

“There wasn’t a ton of chatter, but there were a couple of conversations here and there, and it was good to talk to them. They’re good people.”

Suber managed to score in red figures, but he still had an up-and-down day on Thursday—much like the rollercoaster ride he has experienced as of late.

Over his first five holes, Suber made par, bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie; a stressful yet entertaining way to begin your U.S. Open and sit at even par through five.

He then made a birdie at the par-3 9th, thanks to a tremendous tee shot that landed four feet from the stick. Another birdie at the short par-4 13th followed.

Then, Suber dropped a pair of shots at the 14th and 15th holes. But he bounced back with a birdie at the 523-yard par-4 16th. Like his opening few holes, and his last couple of weeks for that matter, he enjoyed quite the rollercoaster on the back nine, too.

“I always believed I could do this. You never know if you’re actually going to do it, but I feel like I always knew that this was in me,” Suber said.

“I didn’t know if it was going to happen because nothing in life is for sure, but I was going to give it my best chance. I worked hard to be here and feel like I just need to keep working hard and stay humble.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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