Carter Jenkins balances mix of excitement for U.S. Open, grief for Grayson Murray ::

Carter Jenkins balances mix of excitement for U.S. Open, grief for Grayson Murray ::

— Raleigh’s own Carter Jenkins grabbed one of the last spots in the U.S. Open.

It’ll be the first time he’s ever played a major.

That joy comes weeks after the death of his childhood friend and fellow pro golfer, Grayson Murray.

It might not be Raleigh, but Pinehurst is as close to home as a first major can get for Jenkins.

After nearly 100 events on PGA Tour Canada and the Korn Ferry Tour, the 28-year-old has a chance to compete with the world’s best at one of the best courses in the world.

Pinehurst No. 2 ready for US Open coming to town

“When I step onto that first tee box, that moment I’m sure will hit me like a ton of bricks come Thursday,” Jenkins said.

It’s taken a lot just to get to this point for Jenkins. He had to come out on top in a playoff at final qualifying at Duke University Golf Club. How did he deal with the pressure?

“At the end of the day, it’s just more golf, you know,” Jenkins said. “If you can keep it that simple and just go about your own business, it’s really just golf.”

That perspective has been pivotal for the past couple of weeks as he’s grieved the death of childhood friend Grayson Murray. Murray was a professional golfer and Raleigh native that died by suicide in late May. Jenkins said he feels like there has been someone watching over him on the golf course ever since.

“And I like to think there will continue to be that presence for the rest of my life, because he was a special person,” Jenkins said. “He will always be with me, from this day until my last day.”

For the U.S. Open, his goal is to win, but also to remember that it’s just golf.

I’m just here for the moment,” he said. “I’m here for the opportunity. I’m here for the championship. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and we’ll see where we fall on Sunday.”

Michael McGowan and Jenkins tee off bright and early Thursday at 6:45 a.m. from Hole No. 1.