U.S. Open Calif. Sectional: Bramlett is in
SACRAMENTO – For U.S. Open Sectional medalist Erick Justesen, the third time is the charm.
After failing to advance from local qualifying the last two years, the 25-year old Canadian tour member earned a spot in next week’s U.S. Open field at Pebble Beach via stellar rounds of 65-68 for a 9-under-par 133 total. The 2006 NCGA Stroke Play champion had partial Nationwide status in 2009, and his game took its lumps in his first year as a pro. “I learned a lot last year. I practice more now and play in less tournaments. I’ve been playing well but sometimes my driver gets me into trouble and I’m not mature enough to stop using it.”
The 2008 Stanislaus alum is a part-time caddie at Pebble, and realizes the enormity of the accomplishment: “The U.S. Open p[period is my dream; Pebble is just icing o the cake. But I think playing there might give me a sense of security. I’m definitely excited for that.”
The sectional was one of 13 nationally conducted by the USGA. With only 4.5% of the field advancing in Sacramento, competitors faced the stiffest odds of any of the 13 sites (the Columbus, Ohio sectional – well stocked with PGA Tour players – had 120 players competing for 15 spots).
The other qualifiers included amateur Joseph Bramlett, a graduating senior at Stanford who has now fully recovered from a wrist injury that hobbled the 2005 State Amateur finalist (which was contested at Pebble Beach) the past two seasons; Kenny Kim, a professional from Cerritos who is competing on California’s professional mini-tours and amateur Andrew Putnam of Washington, the winner of a 4-for-1 sudden death playoff among players who posted 5-under 137. (Putnam went 72-65)
Dillon Dougherty of La Quinta holed a bunker shot for birdie to get into the four-player playoff, but ended up as second alternate.
Del Paso CC hosted the 36-hole event, set up at 7,121 yards, par 71, and perhaps experienced its biggest test since unveiling a comprehensive renovation in 2006. “This is the most talent we’ve had here,” said Superintendent Mark McKinney, CGCS. Greens were double cut and rolled promoting truer and faster conditions, but light rough and even lighter wind fired up low scoring in a hurry.
The opening round witnessed 35 scores at par or better (out of a field of 87). The motto of the day became go low or go home. Joel Kribel’s previous course-record 66 got lowered by a stroke by three players in the opening round alone, and then lowered again to a 7-under 64, fired by Daniel Wax of Pacific Palisades.
Local favorite and former NCGA Player of the Year Spencer Levin, fresh off a red-eye flight after making the cut at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament in Columbus, was unable to generate any momentum after opening with a double bogey, and finished at 140, three shots out of the playoff.
The U.S. Open kicks off with first-round action next Thursday.
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- for the complete list of scores from all U.S. Open Sectional Qualifiers, click on the "results" link below.