COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 4, 2013) -- When his phone vibrated in his pocket during a church service on Sunday morning, Brian Csipkes checked the incoming number and ignored it. The area code was 908. He figured it was a telemarketer.
Walking out of church an hour later, Csipkes saw he had an email from the United States Golf Association in Far Hills, N.J. A spot had opened in yesterday’s 36-hole sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open in Columbus, it said, and it was Csipkes’ if he wanted it.
The tee time was for 8 a.m. at Brookside Golf and Country Club. Csipkes lives in Omaha, Neb. It was 10 minutes past noon in Omaha when he read the email. The USGA wanted an answer in five minutes.
“I was a little bit undecided because, obviously, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get here,” Csipkes said. “And I’m playing a golf tournament that I was in a good position to win.
“But it’s the U.S. Open. You do it because it’s the U.S. Open.”
So Csipkes went home from church, packed and drove 12 hours to Columbus on Sunday. He pulled into the Brookside parking lot about 3 a.m. yesterday, he said, slept a couple of hours and started getting ready for his tee time — his first ever in the sectional round of U.S. Open qualifying.
“Just getting here, it was hard for me to drive the speed limit because I had this adrenaline rush of being in,” Csipkes said. “I didn’t have any problems staying awake. If anything, I had trouble sleeping once I was here because the last thing you want to do is drive 12 hours and miss your tee time.”
Csipkes, a 41-year-old certified public accountant, wasn’t among the 15 who qualified for the Open yesterday at Brookside and The Lakes Golf and Country Club in Westerville. All the spots at Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia next week went to professionals with status on the PGA Tour, led by Charley Hoffman at 11-under-par 133.
Csipkes shot 79 at Brookside and 76 at The Lakes. But it did not diminish his day. He hung around on the patio at The Lakes as the scores were posted. Then he went out with the crowd and watched the 11-man playoff for the final seven spots in the field, which lasted three holes.
“I’m going to soak it in,” Csipkes said.
“Did I think I was going to qualify? I didn’t have any thought that I would. But it’s 36 holes, and things happen. You make some putts and you get some momentum, you never know.”
When he got in the field, Csipkes said his immediate thought was of Dennis Miller, a 42-year-old club pro from Boardman, Ohio, whose birdie putt on the fourth playoff last year at Scioto Country Club gave him the last spot in the Open from the Columbus sectional.
“Every year, there are one or two guys who get in who you don’t expect,” he said. “It happens. That’s why you can’t pass it up. You have to come. You have to do it.”
Hoffman, meanwhile, was thinking otherwise after shooting 81 on Sunday in the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
“I didn’t know if I would show up,” he said. “I had been (on tour) six of the last seven weeks.
“That bad round got me motivated, and Sunday night I decided I didn’t want to let that linger. I had been playing too well to not try and qualify because I feel like I am playing well enough to win the U.S. Open. It’s really satisfying to come back the way I did.”