SAN FRANCISCO — Blake Adams was decked out in all black, a tribute to his late father.
He was playing with Ernie Els, a three-time major champion, in the third-to-last pairing in the final round of the U.S. Open.
The only thing missing Sunday was a better score.
Adams, who lives near Swainsboro, Ga., struggled to 5-over 75. It put him at 7-over and in a tie for 21st place.
The former Georgia and Georgia Southern golfer started the day with aspirations of contending for a major championship in his first attempt, or at least qualifying for the Masters Tournament through the top eight and ties.
Instead, he walks away with a ton of memories and a better understanding of what it takes to compete in the majors.
“All in all, a great week,” Adams said. “I didn’t play as well as I wanted to (Sunday) obviously. But I learned a lot from it.”
Adams, 36, got off to a shaky start with bogeys on his first six holes. His opening tee shot went right and rolled underneath a golf cart used by the television crew. On the second hole, his approach flew over the flag and wound up in the back bunker, leading to another bogey.
“I didn’t hit it as well, and some of those momentum par putts I made the first few days, didn’t fall,” he said. “It was a long, long climb after that.”
True to his nature, though, Adams didn’t give up. He made birdie at the seventh, then rattled off four pars in a row. After bogeys at Nos. 12 and 13, he finished up in style with an eagle at the par-5 17th.
In addition to playing with Els, the popular South African who won the U.S. Open twice in the 1990s, Adams played directly behind winner Webb Simpson.
“I got to see a lot of good golf. I got to see how they attacked the course,” he said. “I think if I had driven the ball a hair better, it would have been a totally different story.”
Although Adams would take a Masters invitation any way he can, he’d prefer to do it the old-fashioned way.
“I would take this route in any day, but I would much prefer to win to get in,” he said. “That’s how I’ve always judged guys who get in, but I certainly wouldn’t turn down this invite.”