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Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Can You Name The Three Sun Devils In The U.S. Open?
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 06/09/2014
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7:07 a.m.-12:52 p.m. — MATT JONES (with Matt Every and Roberto Castro)
7:51 a.m.-1:36 p.m. — PHIL MICKELSON (with Justin Rose and Matthew Fitzpatrick)
1:25 p.m.-7:40 a.m. — PAUL CASEY (with Luke Donald and Harris English)

By Ari Richman, Sun Devil Media Relations Intern

For the third time in 16 years, the U.S. Open will be returning to Pinehurst, North Carolina. The tournament begins on Thursday (June 12) and goes through Sunday (June 15). Could this year’s Pinehurst location produce the first U.S. Open winner who is an Arizona State graduate?

One of the most recognized golfers throughout the world is Phil Mickelson. The ASU alum, who graduated with a degree in Psychology in 1992, will be seeking his sixth major championship, but his first U.S. Open title. However, the Sun Devils have more than one player in the field. Former teammates for two years, Paul Casey (1998-2000) and Matt Jones (1998-2001) are also pursuing a prestigious win to add to their professional golf resume.

As teammates, they helped Arizona State win seven tournaments.

Pacific-10 Championship, Tempe, Ariz. (April 24-26, 2000)
ASU Thunderbird/Savane Invitational, Tempe, Ariz. (Apr. 15-16, 2000)
Las Vegas Intercollegiate, Las Vegas, Nev. (March 10-12, 2000)
USC Southwestern Classic, Westlake Village, Calif. (February 28-March 1, 2000)
NCAA West Regional, Tucson, Ariz. (May 19-22, 1999)
Pacific-10 Championship, Seattle, Wash. (April 25-28, 1999)
ASU Thunderbird/Savane Invitational, Tempe, Ariz. (April 16-18, 1999)

Casey, from Surrey, United Kingdom, was a three-time Pac-10 champion and three-time All-American. Casey’s personal bests included a 15-under 265 at the Broadmoor Golf Club in Seattle on the par-70 course in 1999, with an NCAA record single-round score of 60 in the final round. In total, he collected six championships and 19 top-10 finishes in three years at Arizona State. Professionally, Casey is ranked 84th in the world heading into the U.S. Open. He has collected 24 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, with a first-place finish at the 2009 Shell Houston Open.

Randy Lein, former men’s coach at Arizona State who won eight Pac-10 titles and the 1996 NCAA Championship, saw the potential in Casey and Jones.

“I was very fortunate to have coached talented players (at Arizona State), but Matt and Paul are two of the best I have coached,” Lein says.

One characteristic of Paul that stood out to Lein was the way he played to win.

“He didn’t show up to play golf or at workouts to go through the motions…he was very gifted physically too.”

Jones, on the other hand, had a much different approach on the course. “Matt was very easy going and laid back. He didn’t get too excited or upset on the course,” says Lein. “When I watch Matt play, he has one of the better swings out there. He makes everything look natural and easy.”

A first-team All-American in 2001 and an honorable mention in 2000, the Sydney, Australia native had 13 top-10 finishes. In his last season, he recorded a 71.46 stroke average. He ended the year on a strong note by shooting 32-under in his final six events (20 rounds). Jones, along with Casey, led ASU to finish first in their conference (1995-2000) and in their region (1998, 1999, 2001). Currently, Jones is ranked 48th in the world. He has finished top-10 in 17 tournaments on the PGA Tour, including a win this year at the 2014 Shell Houston Open.

Coincidentally, Phil Mickelson has also won the Shell Houston Open in 2011 – just two years after Casey’s first place win, and three years before Jones’ first place finish at the same tournament.

In the 156-player field for the U.S. Open, this year’s competition includes three of Arizona State’s own in the pursuit of a major title. For Casey and Jones, Lein saw their potential early at Arizona State and “knew their goal was to play on the PGA Tour.” This Thursday marks the opportunity for three Sun Devils to enter their name in golf history books by capturing the illustrious U.S. Open title.
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