Jim Hyler of Raleigh still at epicenter of golf's biggest events

calexander@newsobserver.comApril 9, 2014 

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Raleigh’s Jim Hyler, who will captain the U.S. team in the World Amateur Team Championship, is a member of a group that helped secure financing for the 2014 U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open.

TAR HEEL OF THE WEEK — JIM BOUNDS (JRB)

Jim Hyler of Raleigh, a past president of the U.S. Golf Association who served on several of its committees, no longer is as active with the USGA.

But make no mistake, Hyler still is very active in golf. That hasn’t changed.

Hyler will captain the U.S. team in the 2014 World Amateur Team Championship this fall in Japan. He also is a member of the President’s Council, the group of N.C. business leaders who helped secured corporate backing for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in 1999 and 2005 and has done it again for the 2014 U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open on Pinehurst No. 2.

“I’m right in the thick of it,” Hyler said.

In 2012, former USGA president Jim Vernon was the captain as the three-man U.S. team won the World Amateur in Turkey by five shots over Mexico. The Americans set a tournament record with a 24-under 404 total in an event shortened to 54 holes, claiming the Eisenhower Trophy for the 14th time.

“The three times before that the U.S. had not won, so that reversed a trend,” Hyler said.

It’s also a tough act to follow.

“The pressure is definitely on,” Hyler said, laughing. “But really, my job is pretty much to pick out the clothing, get them to the first tee on time, do the scorecards and keep them out of trouble.”

The three-man team in 2012 was made up of 2012 U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox; Justin Thomas, the 2012 national college player of the year at Alabama; and Chris Williams, who was No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

“There were some horses on that team,” Hyler said. “We’ll look at the World Amateur rankings and who’s playing well and make the selections after the U.S. Amateur.”

The 2014 U.S. Amateur is set for Aug 11-17 at Atlanta Athletic Club. The World Amateur will be Sept. 11-14 in Karuizawa – a summer resort area – and will be the first time since 1962 that Japan has hosted the event.

All that will come after the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open on Pinehurst No. 2, in an unprecedented back-to-back coupling. For two weeks in June, the USGA will have the best golfers in the world competing on the same golf course, albeit with some different conditions.

Hyler said the decision was made to hold the U.S. Open the first week because the USGA “wanted the greens to really be firm” for the men.

“Not crazy fast, but plenty fast,” he said. “The women don’t hit their irons or approaches as high or have as much spin with their irons, so the greens need to be a little softer for them.”

Nor will the course play as long for the women, although Hyler noted, “The women will hit the same clubs to the greens as the men for the most part, so the test will be the same.”

Former USGA executive director David Fay often is credited as being the mastermind behind holding back-to-back Opens. Hyler noted it was Fay’s idea and a group decision.

“There was a lot of talk about the men and women’s U.S. Open and what a great event it was, having the men and women on the same stage,” Hyler said. “We said, ‘Is there any way we could showcase the women on the same stage as the men?’ 

At first, Hyler said, there was discussion about holding the U.S. Open, then having a one-week break before the Women’s Open. But to play on consecutive weeks – the ultimate golf doubleheader – was intriguing and was approved. The U.S. Open is June 12-15, and the Women’s Open is June 19-22.

“We think there’s been more buzz about the Women’s Open than ever before,” he said. “It has given it a higher profile.”

Hyler joined the USGA executive committee in 2004 and served four years as chairman of the championship committee. He served terms as USGA president in 2010 and 2011.

Hyler retired in 2008 as vice chairman and chief operating officer of First Citizens Bank. He now is a managing director of Investors Management Corporation (IMC) in Raleigh.

Hyler had remained a constant presence on the President’s Council. Before, there was one Open to support. This time, there will be two.

But Hyler said there was a lot of corporate interest in sponsorships and hospitality packages for the two Opens. The statewide economic impact of holding two Opens should be more than $150 million.

“We made our budget,” Hyler said. “Pinehurst and North Carolina has come through again.”

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter: @ice_chip

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