July 10, 2007–Going into the US Senior Open at Whistling Straits, Las Vegas golfer and Southern Nevada Golf Association (SNGA) President Brady Exber would've been thrilled making the cut in the event, his first US Open experience, senior or otherwise. But once he had played two solid rounds to easily survive until the weekend, his goals changed, and a top 20 finish and being the low amateur was all that was on his mind.
And, he thought, both new goals were well within his reach. "First off, I was thrilled to qualify, and I went into the event with the goal of making the cut, but once I made it, I wanted a good high finish," says Exber, the seven-time SNGA Player of the Year. "But I didn't play very well on the weekend, especially on Saturday. But the course setup was very difficult on Saturday, and the scores were a lot higher than the other days." Exber ended up firing rounds of 73-73-78-74–298, to finish in 41st place overall, and two shots behind other amateurs George Zahringer and Danny Green.
Exber, who plays out of Las Vegas golf course TPC Summerlin, was very upset that he didn't earn low amateur because that distinction came with exemptions into the British Senior Open, the 2008 US Senior Open, and both the US Amateur and US Mid Amateur. "That hurt," says Exber, who recently won a Medalist Tour event at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. "That really got to me, and it just would've been neat to finish as the low amateur."
Exber says competing in the US Senior Open was right up there with his life's golf highlights. "It's up there pretty high because I always wanted to play in a regular Open, so this is the next best thing," says Exber, who used good friend Robert Gamez' caddie, Lynn Strickler, because longtime friend Frank Acker couldn't make it. " … It's hard to put into words the whole experience, because it was great. Everyone was so nice. I am glad I got to play in an Open at such a difficult golf course, and I am very appreciative of all the phone calls I received during the week. It was a great."
Exber says the bunkers were amazingly difficult, and were the main reason he struggled on Saturday. He hit decent drives on a few holes, but they barely missed the fairway and the balls ended up in the sand. From the bunkers, he says, it was difficult to even get the ball out of the hazard and back into the fairway. In the third round, he made a bogey on hole five from the bunker, a double on the eleventh hole when a bad rake job did him in, and then after birdies on 16 and 17, he double-bogeyed the 18th when he again found a trap.
Exber's best memories of the experience will be the good holes he played, especially the 18th hole during the final round. "With golf you never really know what your memories will be," says Exber. "But for me the two birdies I made on the tough 17th hole were special, and I birdied the 18th hole on Sunday. That was very cool."