Slack pursues Open dream
A chance of a lifetime meets dream of a lifetime today for South Lake Tahoe golfer Ebon Slack.
The 24-year-old Slack will try to qualify for the U.S. Open golf tournament by passing a 36-hole sectional test at El Caballero Golf Course in Tarzana, Calif.
“My dream has always been to play professionally, and the door is open for me if I do well. Just to get into the next round fulfills my dream,” said Slack, who won local U.S. Open qualifying last month at Genoa Lakes with a 3-under-par 69. “But I can’t just play in these tournaments every year and hope to do it, you have to be playing all the time.”
The assistant pro at Genoa Lakes played a practice round in Tarzana last week, so he knows what to expect when the sectional field is pared down to five Open qualifiers.
“The greens are so big and so fast that you have to be in the right part of the greens to score well,” Slack said. “Depending where the pins are set, there are sections of the green that you don’t want to hit to because it can leave you a downhill putt and you can’t stop it. It’s just amazing how fast they are. You hope that you’re prepared for it, but I don’t know if you can prepare for greens that fast.”
Siphoning the knowledge of a 20-year caddie of the course has also enhanced Slack’s chances today.
“He helped me mark the course and figure out yardages and there’s a road along the course where everything on the green slopes to. Whatever hole I’m on, I know everything slopes that way, so he was real helpful,” Slack said.
Slack will once again team with his future father-in-law Mark Lucksinger, who will carry his bag for the entire 36 holes.
“I’m ready. I’ve been working out,” Lucksinger joked. “It’s a privilege for him to even play in it, and I’m sure he’ll represent this area very well.
“He really stays focused and has a great temperament for the game. He tries to stay within himself and doesn’t try to outplay the golf course.”
Slack gave Lucksinger credit for his putting display at the local qualifier.
“It’s flattering if he really believes that, but he’s the one rolling them in,” Lucksinger said.
Slack has been preparing for the sectionals by practicing at Genoa Lakes before and after work.
“A lot of these guys don’t have to work. They’re practicing and playing all day,” he said.
Given the U.S. Open standards of high rough, slick greens and a premium on accuracy, Slack knows he’ll have to play his best to qualify for the country’s biggest event June 17-20 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Pinehurst, N.C.
“You have to be on your game at all times. There’s no room for errors. Even par will get you in,” he said.
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