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2022 US Open

There will be echoes of the 2013 US Amateur at June’s US Open at The Country Club in Brookline

Matthew Fitzpatrick, who will play in the US Open at The Country Club in June, has already had a moment of glory at the venue, winning the 2013 US Amateur.Jim Rogash

By either of the two most prominent standards of success in professional golf — the official PGA Tour rankings and the official PGA money list — Max Homa is having himself quite a year.

Ranked 28th following a T-13 finish at the recent PGA Championship and eighth on the money list when that $253,750 check pushed his yearly earnings to $4.38 million, the 31-year-old Californian is a man on the rise. He is squarely in the group of golfers to watch at the season’s next major when the US Open comes to Brookline June 16-19.

But if Homa wants a quick reminder of how far he has come in his chosen sport, all it takes is a look back at the last time he competed at The Country Club.

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That would be the 2013 US Amateur, when Homa’s golf game was growing but his bank balance was not. It’s a tournament that might not rank among The Country Club’s most famous moments (those honors go to Francis Ouimet’s US Open win in 1913 and the US Ryder Cup victory in 1999), but in representing the club’s most recent turn in the international spotlight, it tells a unique and amazing story all its own.

That field of young, eager golfers featured 11 players currently ranked among the top 100.

“Like a glimpse at who is going to be the future of golf,” said Ben Kimball, the senior director of championships for the USGA, which runs the event. “There’s only one winner, but a look across the board at all the names, it’s a who’s who of amateur golf.”

Bryson DeChambeau, seen here earlier this month at the 2022 PGA Championship, was one of several notables who competed at the 2013 US Amateur.Ross Kinnaird/Getty

And now, it’s an impressive group of professionals who return to Boston nine years later counting themselves among the best in the game: World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion. World No. 5 and PGA champion Justin Thomas, a two-time major winner. World No. 11 Xander Schauffele, a two-time major runner-up. World No. 14 Will Zalatoris, who just lost the PGA to Thomas in a playoff. World No. 15 Matthew Fitzpatrick, whose PGA charge stalled with a tie for fifth. World No. 25 Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champ. World No. 29 Homa. World No. 30 Cameron Young, No. 33 Corey Conners, No. 35 Talor Gooch, and No. 86 Aaron Wise.

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“Oh yeah, for sure, a great field,” Gooch recalled while competing at the Masters in April. “From when we were young, in junior golf to college golf and amateur golf, you kind of have this group.

“It’s obviously gotten a little bit smaller, but there’s still that same group of guys and it’s fun to revisit a place that we all played back nearly 10 years ago. It’s cool and I’m sure we’ll all talk about how the course was and how it is now. It will be fun, and it’s absolutely a pretty special thing.”

Max Homa (shown at this year's Masters) has fond memories of The Country Club, even though he didn't win back in 2013.Jamie Squire/Getty

While the best memory belongs to the Englishman Fitzpatrick, who prevailed over Australia’s Oliver Goss in the match-play finish and made such a connection with his host family that he is planning to stay with them again while returning for the US Open, it was an admission from Homa that said so much about how many of their lives have changed.

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Though Homa didn’t get the result he wanted, shooting a 149 and failing to advance to match play, he got a bigger surprise when his then-girlfriend Lacey Croom surprised him by flying out from California to watch him play.

Croom, who was a student at Cal State Fullerton while dating Homa, an undergraduate at Berkeley, had a cousin in Boston who had an apartment she could use, so she took him up on it.

“I remember I got a second job for a week selling barbecue at the Orange County Fair so I was able to afford that ticket,” said Croom, laughing during an interview after her now-husband finished his third round at Augusta.

When the weekend was over, after she’d funded a few dinners out and a trip to Fenway for a Red Sox-Yankees game, she had enough to help her boyfriend make it back across the country.

“She flew me home because I think I had $226 left to my name,” Homa said. “I’m sure my mom would have thrown me a couple bones, but I was trying not to ask.”

The two have been married since 2019 and are expecting their first child.

“I remember the golf course was very difficult, like old-school, tree-lined, and kind of quirky,” Homa said. “It reminded me a bit of Merion, a bit longer maybe. It’s a monster.

“But for me it was a great week. Lacey and I had literally just started dating and then she surprised me. I didn’t play very well but we got to hang out in Boston all week, which was awesome.”

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Homa was not alone in missing match play, the fate that also befell Thomas, Zalatoris, Gooch, and Young. Scheffler made the quarterfinals, losing to Brady Watt. Schauffele lost to Goss in the Round of 16, and DeChambeau bowed out in the Round of 32 to Conners, who would go on to lose to Fitzpatrick in the semifinals.

Fitzpatrick found magic in his short game, working with his caddie/younger brother Alex (now a senior on Wake Forest’s golf team) all the way to victory.

Scottie Scheffler, who won the Masters in April, has played Brookline before.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

“You had this 18-year-old kid, who if he weighed 135 pounds back then that would have been a lot,” recalled Brendan Walsh, director of golf at The Country Club. “He looked like a little boy, a kid who hadn’t matured yet, but who had this unbelievable short game, up against this kid [Goss] who was 6 foot 2 and 190 pounds and hit it further than Matt, hit it higher, and it just looked like Matt wouldn’t have a chance.

“But he just hung in there. You couldn’t measure Matt’s heart. He was getting it up and down from everywhere. His short game was just impeccable.”

It was a nice trophy to take with him to Northwestern, where he would soon begin his college career. Now, he returns as a successful pro.

“It’s going to be a great week,” said Fitzpatrick, “and like you say, I’ve got great memories and have my family there, so, yeah, so it should be good.”

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“I would be shocked if Mr. Fitzpatrick didn’t have a few goosebumps in that driveway driving back to the country club,” Kimball said. “That was the springboard to his professional career.

“Many of these players, they figured something out that week. I remember Matthew wasn’t hitting it that well, but his short game was ridiculous.

“That’s something that will help him tremendously when playing a US Open. I think all those memories will flood back into the individual’s head, and maybe it’s a little bit of an advantage.

“Even though he’s from England, he may be viewed as the local Boston favorite that week because of his win in the past. We know that Boston sports fans love their golf and are rabid about things, so getting that support could be good for him.

“As long as he doesn’t wear a Yankee cap on the first tee, he should be fine.”


Tara Sullivan is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at tara.sullivan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Globe_Tara.