Amateur loses U.S. Open Sectional spot on a coin flip
Cristian DiMarco (USF/Twitter photo)
Cristian DiMarco (USF/Twitter photo)

ORLANDO, FL (May 11, 2018) - A coin flip decided the last U.S Open sectionals ticket out of the local qualifier in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday.

LSU senior Luis Gagne was on the right end of that flip. South Florida senior Cristian DiMarco, son of PGA Tour veteran Chris DiMarco, was on the wrong end. Neither player, though, was present at Orange Tree Golf Club when the unconventional tiebreaker took place.

Had both players been there, they would’ve been able to settle the tie on the golf course after each finished 18 holes in even-par 72. Instead, Gagne moved on and DiMarco, who triple-bogeyed the 17th hole, was first alternate.

The USGA said this, in a statement given to Golf Digest:

“The Florida State Golf Association, which conducted the qualifying, proceeded correctly per procedure to flip a coin when both players were not present to decide the final spot in a hole-by-hole playoff. If the playoff had involved more than two players, the spots would be decided by lot. It is unfortunate that the players did not remain on property to determine the last qualifying spot through their play.”

DiMarco, who shot 71 last year at Orange Tree and didn’t even earn one of the alternate spots, told Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner that he thought he had “no chance” of making it through when he and his dad, who was caddieing, left the course.

A few hours later, DiMarco and Gagne finished in a tie for fifth. After calling the pro shop and finding out his fate, DiMarco then dialed Gagne, who grew up with DiMarco in the Orlando area.

“I called him and was like, ‘Well, I didn’t put up that much of a fight to you, buddy,’” DiMarco told Golf Channel. “We had a good laugh about it. Neither of us thought we’d get in. But that’s how it is. It’s a learning experience. I’m very disappointed in myself for leaving, but in the grand scheme of things, is it really going to make a huge difference in my career? I hope not. I hope I’ll play in many U.S. Opens.”

Florida freshman Chris Nido medaled at 3 under while PGA Tour Champions player Bart Bryant (2 under), Alabama commit Canon Claycomb (2 under) and Andy Pope (1 under) also advanced.

ABOUT THE U.S. Open Local Qualifying

18-hole stroke play qualifier open to male amateurs with a handicap of 1.4 and below. Players who advance will get to choose their top three sectional qualifying sites. The number of qualifying spots will depend on the size of the field.

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