Almost an hour before the U.S. Kids Teen Skills Challenge was even to begin, they started looking at the glass.
A 2×2-foot pane of glass, perched on a pole some 30 yards away, was beckoning some of the best young golfers in the world. Pick a club – any club – and fire away. This glass was meant to be broken.
Some of them tilted their heads, angling for the perfect look at the glass. Others rubbed their chins.
Five iron? Three? Wedge?
No, not wedge. Definitely not wedge.
A 3-wood stinger? Not a bad idea. Driver?
Hmmmm. How about driver off the mat, no tee?
As soon as they were given the go-ahead, they huddled around the mat, the chatter quickly moving away from the stressful recounts of their respective first round scores. The first few made their attempts, all trying essentially the same shot, but with varying clubs.
It had to be low, and it had to sting. The soft punch shots a few tried, as if playing a shot to get them out from under Pinehurst’s towering pines, weren’t going to get it done. Even this glass could withstand the safe shot.
No, this had to move. This needed some heat on it.
Grip it (low), and rip it.
Boys tried. Young men tried. Girls. Righties. Lefties. The kid who belted a 302-yard drive at the long drive contest couldn’t master this one.
Some aimed right, hoping their ringing hook would do the trick. Others looked left and went outside-in with the swing path, generating a wicked slice.
Some shots dribbled. Many attempts sailed well high.
A few came close. Very close. Agonizingly close. A few tried again. And again. But through 186 attempts, the glass stood unbroken, gleaming in the blazing Carolina sun.
Then came Vijay Mishra, 14, from North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Five iron in hand, he looked right of the glass. He waggled. Checked his target. Waggled again. Checked again. Then checked again, this time a split-second longer.
The ball never strayed from the target. Mishra would say later he aimed right, going with the hook. The ball did just that, but only to strike the top of the glass dead center.
Finally, someone had done it.
And the crowd around him roared.