Headed down the stretch of a qualifying event, William Paysse was in the mix to make the field for last year’s U.S. Amateur before a few putts didn’t fall and he was left on the outside looking in.
Rather than hang his head for too long, the former Belton standout reassessed what had happened and studied it within the framework of the bigger picture.
“I really thought I had a good chance at last year’s qualifier. Even though I missed it by a few strokes, I knew then I was becoming a player that could play in this kind of tournament with these guys,” he said.
Fast forward to the present, and the confidence Paysse gained from last year’s experience paid off in the form of a tee time Monday in Bandon, Ore., for the 120th U.S. Amateur.
“Last year served as motivation,” the Texas A&M redshirt sophomore said earlier this week. “I worked really hard last summer and to get that close, it drove me to get better and gave me some confidence at the same time.”
Now that Paysse has cleared the hurdle of making it into the 264-man field, his next challenge will be to post scores good enough Monday on the Bandon Trails course and Tuesday at Bandon Dunes to make the cut for the 64-player match-play portion of the tournament.
And once things change to the one-on-one format, it’s anybody’s title to win.
“You try to take it one piece at a time,” the 20-year-old said. “The goal is to get to match play in some form, and then start worrying about winning matches.”
Navigating an event that includes both stroke and match play is a topic Paysse knows something about. He was 47th at the Western Amateur last month and finished 17th at the North and South Amateur in late June.
He’ll lean on his experience from those two events as he works his way around two courses in Bandon that he had never played before this weekend’s two practice rounds.
“I don’t know a whole lot about Bandon Dunes,” he said. “A couple of guys on my A&M team played a tournament there about five years ago, so I’ve heard about the area. I know it’s a really good course.
“I know it’s more like a links course, like a British Open-type setup with wind. I have the ability to hit it low and control my ball off the tee.”
When it comes to competing in a USGA championship, a player’s success has as much to do with his ability to handle his emotions and nerves as it does his skill.
Paysse understands that and knows he can’t think too far ahead with so much on the line.
“Any USGA event, if you can get into one of those, it’s a pretty cool deal,” he said. “Obviously, it’s probably the biggest tournament I’ve played in during my amateur golf career. Even on the big stage, you need to treat it like every other tournament and have a good plan.
“This summer I’ve gotten to play in more high-ranked, bigger tournaments. Every player in the field is a great player. You can’t make too many big mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes, but limit your big ones.”
Paysse tees off at 11:57 a.m. Pacific time Monday and 7:44 a.m. Tuesday, and then he’ll wait to see how his scores stack up. He’ll have some company waiting with him, but not a lot.
His first appearance in the U.S. Amateur comes during a summer in which spectators are not allowed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Each player is allowed to have his caddie and only one guest. For Paysse, that means having his older brother, Andrew, on the bag and his mother watching from outside the ropes.
“It’s kind of a bummer this year to make it and not get to take all of my family, but having my brother and mom will help calm me a little bit,” he said. “And I’m sure my dad will be receiving lots of pictures and updates.”
Plus at the rate Paysse’s career is ascending, his family should have plenty of opportunities down the road to watch him play in big tournaments.