By David Shefter, USGA
Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee carded a 2-over-par 74 on Monday at a U.S. Open local qualifier in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., missing a chance to advance by two strokes.
Competing in just his second local qualifier, Scobee improved seven strokes from the round of 81 he posted last year at Timiquana Country Club in Jacksonville.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, future Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz carded a 3-over-par 74 at The River Club in Suwanee, Ga., and also missed advancing by two strokes. Eight spots were available at the Suwanee qualifier.
This time around, playing in breezy conditions, Scobee collected a pair of birdies in his round, including a two-putt 4 from the fringe at the par-5 eighth hole and a 10-footer at the par-4 15th hole on the East/West layout at Sawgrass Country Club. The course is across the street from the famous TPC at Sawgrass, site of this past weekend’s Players Championship.
Four golfers advanced from the Sawgrass C.C. qualifier, including 2003 U.S. Junior Amateur champion and two-time Walker Cup participant Brian Harman of St. Simons Island, Ga. Amateur Kevin Phelan of Ireland, who played in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last June and hopes to be on the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Team in September, also advanced.
“I hit the ball pretty well all day,” Scobee told the Jacksonville Times-Union. “There are a couple of holes I’d like to have back and I didn’t make the putts I thought I should have made. But I competed on a difficult course, in a lot of wind, and I’m happy with the way I hung in there.”
The scores by Scobee and Smoltz are the lowest so far among current and former athletes from other pro sports who are attempting to qualify for the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who advanced to sectional qualifying last year, had an 81 in his local qualifier last week in the Dallas area.
Former big-league pitcher Erik Hanson of Kirkland, Wash., who has previously made it to U.S. Open sectionals and has also qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, shot a 75 last week at the Tumble Creek Club in Cle Elum, Wash.
Also failing to qualify were ex-NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver, tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl (84 at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island) and Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr (77 at a local qualifier in Arizona). Actor Lucas Black shot 81 at Persimmon Woods C.C. in St. Louis.
Olympic silver medalist and former NHL goalie Mike Dunham and former NFL kicker Al Del Greco will play their qualifiers today. Del Greco is competing in Birmingham, Ala., with his son, Trey, a member of the Vanderbilt University men's golf team. Of that group, only Dunham has previously played in a USGA championship, having qualified for the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur.
David Shefter is the USGA’s senior staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.