NHL ref Garrett Rank misses cut as U.S. Open experience ends

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NHL referee Garrett Rank can feel pretty good about himself following his two days at the U.S. Open golf tournament.

He finished +18 after shooting an 83 on Thursday and a 75 on Friday, which included back-to-back birdies. While he didn’t make the cut, Rank can say that stars like Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson also won’t be playing at Long Island’s Shinnecock Hills over the weekend.

It’s a tough course, and the big-time pros struggled just as much as Rank, who debuted as an NHL referee in Jan. 2015. But still, he got to play at a major tournament during downtime from his full-time job. Pretty cool.

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The 30-year-old Rank qualified for the Open after finishing in a tie for first place at a sectional qualifier in Atlanta earlier this month. Fellow NHL ref Dan O’Rourke served as his caddy.

This isn’t Rank’s first big golf experience. He’s played in 15 UGSA events and is a three-time Canadian Mid-Amateur champion. He also nearly qualified for the Masters Tournament after reaching the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship final in 2012.

“I was really nervous reffing my first game,” Rank told NHL.com after the first round on Thursday. “I made a wrong call in the first five minutes of the game, but things turned out all right in my NHL career.

“But I guess I shot 83 in my first U.S. Open experience, so hopefully it can turn [out] all right in my golf career.”

MORE: U.S. Open leaderboard

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.