Highsmith flying high at U.S. Open

Joe Highsmith will be teeing it up this week at the 121st U.S. Open Championship, being held on the mighty South Course at Torrey Pines in San Diego, Calif.

Joe Highsmith
Joe Highsmith

Highsmith, who was named WA Golf’s Player of the Year multiple times, is on a roll. He is a rising senior on the Pepperdine University men’s golf team, which last month won the NCAA National Championship. And to earn the right to have a tee time at Torrey, he flew through the crucible of Local and Final qualifying by earning medalist honors at both, first at the Local at La Quinta, and then at the Final at Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland, Wash.

“To be able to qualify for the U.S. Open is a dream come true and I’m more than happy about that,” said Highsmith. “I’m just so excited and I can’t believe I really did it.”

Yes, he did do it.

But those who have been following Highsmith during his amateur career are not surprised. The lefthander from Lakewood, Wash. has been lighting up the scoreboards up and down the West Coast for several years.

He won the 2017 Washington State Amateur, the youngest player to do so. The year before, he had missed a playoff in that championship because of a bogey on the final hole.

Highsmith celebrates during the 2021 NCAA Championship. (Photo: Pepperdine/Roger Horn)
Highsmith celebrates during the 2021 NCAA Championship. (Photo: Pepperdine/Roger Horn)

He was named the WA Golf Junior Boys’ Player of the Year in 2016, and in 2017 had an even better year and earned that honor the second consecutive year. Along with winning the state title that year, he won the individual (and team) WIAA 4A High School State Championship, and then qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur, making it to the Round of 32 before bowing to eventual champion Noah Goodwin. Highsmith was also named the PNGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year in 2017.

Heavily recruited while attending Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, Wash., Highsmith chose Pepperdine, and proceeded to prove he belonged on that already-strong team.

He won the Western Intercollegiate and had seven top-10 tournament finishes as a junior at Pepperdine. As a sophomore, he earned All-West Region honors, and was the WCC Freshman of the Year in 2019.

In 2019, Highsmith won the 2019 Sahalee Players Championship, with his winning score being two shots better than his Pepperdine teammate Sahith Theegala, who had won that championship in 2017. Both players are in the U.S. Open field this week.

Highsmith was named WA Golf’s Men’s Player of the Year in 2019.

Despite the USGA limiting the size of the gallery at Torrey this week, Highsmith’s family is all-in on being there to watch him. His uncle Matt Highsmith, a former standout on the University of Washington men’s golf team, was able to find a ticket for Friday’s round, and will be getting up at 4:00am to drive to San Diego to follow him around the South Course.

We’ll be watching as well.

Highsmith tees off for his opening round on Thursday at 12:41pm PT. To follow along with scoring and updates, visit usopen.com.