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Hammer's time? Texas golfer Cole Hammer prepares for first British Open tournament

Garrett Johnston
American-Statesman Correspondent

Cole Hammer makes his first start in the British Open this week at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England.

This will be the rising senior’s fourth major championship after playing in three U.S. Opens in 2015, 2020 and last month. But this particular major holds a sentimental meaning for the Longhorn.

"Growing up, I was always the one to wake up at 1 a.m. and turn on the TV and watch the Open Championship until the sun came up and everyone was off the golf course, so I can’t wait to be the one playing this time," Hammer said recently. "The British Open, that holds a special place in my heart because of the memories I have watching it with my dad early in the mornings. So I can’t wait for it."

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Texas golfer Cole Hammer lines up a putt on the 11th green during the second round of the U.S. Open in June at Torrey Pines Golf Course. The Longhorn standout has played in three U.S. Opens but is preparing for his first British Open this week in England.

He vividly remembers watching fellow Longhorn Jordan Spieth win this championship in 2017 in dramatic fashion at Royal Birkdale against Matt Kuchar.

"Spieth’s win is the one that definitely stands out to me, it was pretty darn impressive," Hammer said. "Rory’s win was exciting to watch and he was may favorite golfer to watch and that was pretty inspirational, too."

That was in 2014 when McIlroy won, and Hammer would go on to meet the Northern Irishman at the 2015 U.S. Open 11 months later when he qualified as a 15-year-old.

Texas golfer Cole Hammer, shown during the NCAA Austin Regional tournament in May 2019, will have a small support group with him this week in England for the British Open. His father will serve as his coach, his mother will be his trainer and one of his UT coaches will serve as his caddie.

Back to this week. Hammer’s father, Gregg, can’t wait to see his son compete in another major.

"He might be more excited than me," Hammer laughed, “he texts me every day, ‘Let’s go to England.'"

The Hammer family arrived last Saturday midday to prepare for their big week.

The tournament has imposed strict protocols on this year's Open Championship players, allowing for players to only have four total people in the place they stay and no ability to venture out, even to the grocery store during the week.

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That left little choice for a typically full-sized support group.

"My dad will be my coach and my mom will be my trainer," Hammer said. "I'm not going to complain about it because I'm playing a major championship, but I am frustrated we can’t have more people come. This is a big deal for a lot of people. If I wasn’t allowed to have my dad as my coach and my mom as my trainer, they wouldn’t be allowed to come."

But Hammer does see the big picture as well here.

"It’s still gonna be great. My parents are coming at the end of the day and I’m still playing golf."

Texas volunteer golf coach Richie Coughlan hugs Cole Hammer on the 18th green of the 2019 NCAA Austin Regional at the UT Golf Club. Coughlan will be on the bag for Hammer this week at the British Open. "He typically will walk with me in college events," Hammer said. "He knows how to be my caddie essentially and he'll just carry the bag for the first time."

Hammer understands how important weeks like this are in one’s career.

"It’s another major championship," he said. "I’ve played in the U.S. Open a few times, which has been great, and I’m just excited to see the experience of a different major and how it can be different and the same. Luckily I’ve played in the U.S. Open and I feel like those experiences have prepared me well for this."

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Hammer will have Texas volunteer assistant coach Richie Coughlan on the bag this week.

"I cannot wait," Hammer said of pairing with Coughlan. "He typically will walk with me in college events. He knows how to be my caddie essentially and he’ll just carry the bag for the first time. He’s one of the funniest people I know and he’s going to be so much fun to have. He’s someone I’ve always looked up to."

The course at Royal St. George’s figures to be a daunting challenge, but Hammer seems up for the task.

"I have heard it’s potentially one of the most challenging golf courses in the world," Hammer said. "I feel like I play better the harder the golf course is. So I can’t wait to see how it’s going to play."