Former Mississippi State University golfer Alexandre Rocha will be playing the weekend in his first ever United States Open Championship.
Rocha struggled to a birdie-free 5-over-par 76 after three bogeys (No. 4, No. 14 and No. 18) and a double bogey of the par-3 second hole.
Rocha hit just 8 of 18 greens in regulations and 7 of 14 fairways after shooting a first-round 69 to put himself near the top of the leaderboard.
“I’m sitting in front of you having shot under par on my very first major championship, and the U.S. Open at that,” Rocha said Thursday evening. “Nobody is ever going to take that away from me. No matter what happens for the rest of the week, this is something I’m going to take with me forever. It can’t be changed. I can only enjoy, look back and draw from it. People don’t write their life stories in a day. But all you can do is write a chapter at a time. And this is what I did today. I wrote one chapter. If I don’t write anything the rest of the week, I forgive myself for that, because this round, nobody is going to take that away from me.”
Rocha qualified for the U.S. Open through shooting 71-67 and grabbing the final spot at Sectional Qualifying at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., on June 6.
Rocha was an All-American selection at Mississippi State with such successful players like current No. 1 player in the world Luke Donald and Paul Casey. Rocha could not even speak English when he arrived on the Starkville campus.
Rocha stood tied for 44th when second-round play was suspended by darkness Friday, one shot under the cut line (+3), ahead of former U.S. Open champions like Retief Goosen, Geoff Ogilvy and Michael Campbell.
Rocha currently stands 14 shots behind 36-hole leader Rory McElroy (-11) after the 54-hole leader at the Masters from Northern Ireland backed up a first-round 6-under-par 65 with a 5-under 66. The 22-year-old became the first person ever to get to 13-under-par at a U.S. Open and has the largest 36-hole lead in tournament history.
In his rookie year on the PGA Tour, Rocha has made five cuts in 10 starts and earned $57,593 with his best finish being back-to-back 50th place finishes in Cancun and Puerto Rico in March.