19 amateurs have made it to Shinnecock Hills (USGA photo)
VARIOUS SITES, USA (June 4, 2018) - U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying was held Monday at ten qualifying sites across the United States and one site in England. This is often referred to as "Golf's Longest Day", one of the more grueling days in golf. In all, 860 golfers are competing for 74 spots into next week's U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills.
Related: U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying: The Road to Shinnecock HillsRelated: FINAL: U.S. Open Local Qualifying Roundup
Highlights from sectional qualifying include:
Richmond, Texas (52 players for 3 spots)
LSU teammates Jacob Bergeron
and Philip Barbaree
took two of the three spots at Shadow Hawk Golf Club, shooting 11-under 133 and sharing medalist honors.
It was almost a clean sweep for the amateurs, but Blaine Hale
(Dallas, TX) fell in a playoff for the third and final spot after shooting 10 under. Hale will be first alternate from the Richmond site.
Related: Strength of the Amateur Game on Full Display in Houston
In fact, amateurs took seven of the top 10 spots on the leaderboard, and ten of the top 15. Baylor University rising senior Braden Bailey
gave himself a chance to make the top three by shooting 66 in the first round, but his afternoon round of 70 let him two shots out of the playoff.
Oklahoma State star Matthew Wolff
, who won the Mickelson Award as the nation's top college freshman, and who made the clinching putt as the Cowboys won the NCAA Championship, shot 6 under and finished four shots out of the playoff.
San Francisco, California (86 players for 5 spots)
The strength of the amateur game was also demonstrated at Lake Merced and The Olympic Club, with amateurs taking four of the five qualifying spots. Chun An Yu
of Chinese Taipei, who plays college golf at Arizona State, took the lead in the morning with a 6-under 65 at the Olympic Club (Ocean Course), and added a 70 at Lake Merced to earn medalist honors at 8-under 135.
(San Jose, CA), the World #3 who recently finished his playing career at UNLV, had a more thrilling ride to a U.S. Open qualifying spot. In his morning round, he holed out a 100-yard shot for eagle on the par-4 6th hole, then followed it up with back-to-back birdies to propel him to a 4-under 67. Then at Lake Merced, Ban was 1 over through 12 holes, but birdied three of the next four holes and capped off the round with an eagle at the par-5 18th. Ban finished with a 69 for a 7-under 136 total.
(Draper, UT), who just completed his sophomore season at BYU, shot rounds of 66-71 to qualify at 6-under 137. Franklin Huang
, who recently finished his college career at Stanford, shot rounds of 69-68 (his afternoon 68 at the Olympic Club was bogey-free) to advance.
of Sweden and the University of San Francisco only made one bogey all day but ultimately finished one shot short, with rounds of 70-68 to finish 5 under and as the second alternate.
World #2 Collin Morikawa
(La Canada Flintridge, CA) shot rounds of 71-70 to finish 2 under, and four shots behind the final qualifying score.
Jupiter, Florida (48 players for 3 spots)
Amateurs were the class of the qualifying field at The Bear's Club as well, taking two of the three qualifying spots. Luis Gagne
of Costa Rica became the third member of the 8-man LSU college team to punch his ticket to Shinnecock Hills, shooting a morning 68 to grab a share of the lead, then adding a 70 to be the medalist at 6-under 138.
In Local Qualifying, Gagne was the recipient of good fortune, winning the final qualifying spot into the sectional in a coin flip
when neither he nor Cristian DiMarco stayed at the course to play off for the spot.
(Davie, FL) took the last spot in harrowing fashion, shooting rounds of 71-70 (-3) and facing a 6-man playoff for the final spot. The playoff included three professionals as well as amateurs Andy Zhang
and Canon Claycomb
. On the first playoff hole, Strafaci made birdie to eliminate four players and head to the second playoff hole against professional Nathan Stamey. A par was good enough to send Strafaci to Shinnecock Hills.
Last year Strafaci survived an 11-for-1 playoff at the U.S. Junior, so he has proven to show grace under fire.
Atlanta, Georgia (43 players for 3 spots)
Most of the 22 amateurs in the 43-player field were college players, but Canadian mid-amateur (and NHL hockey referee) Garrett Rank
of Canada was the only amateur to qualify. On a difficult day for scoring, Rank shot consecutive rounds of 71 to share medalist honors at 2-under 142. His first round was highlighted by eagles at the par-5 4th and the par-4 8th, with three bogeys in between(!).
UNCG golfer Bryce Hendrix
(Greensboro, NC) nearly qualified after following up a 76 with a 67, the low round of the day. But he lost a playoff with Tour player Roberto Castro and took first alternate.
Summit, New Jersey (81 players for 5 spots)
(Newport Beach, CA), the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and low amateur in the 2017 Masters, qualified for the second straight year, with rounds of 70-66 at Canoe Brook Country Club. His afternoon round of 4-under 66 on the South Course was bogey-free.
World #5 Theo Humphrey
(Greenwich, CT) of Vanderbilt University took the lead with a 5-under 65 on the South Course, then added a 72 in the afternoon on the North and found himself in a playoff for the final qualifying spot. Humphrey defeated professional Mark Hoffman to punch his ticket to Shinnecock Hills.
Rockville, Maryland (53 players for 4 spots)
(New Tripoli, PA) and Mickey DeMorat
(Merritt Island, FL) took two of the four available spots for the ams at Woodmont Country Club.
Miller, a recent Penn State graduate playing in his final competition as an amateur, birdied three of his last five holes to punctuate rounds of 70-69 to take the third spot at 5-under 139. He was going to turn professional last week and play the PGA Tour Canada event, but he decided to stay amateur and focus on the sectional qualifier.
DeMorat, a recent Liberty University graduate, birdied the 36th hole for rounds of 70-71 (-3) to make a three-man playoff for the final spot. Facing two pros, including PGA Tour professional Billy Hurley III, DeMorat won the playoff on the second extra hole.
U.S. Senior Amateur champion Sean Knapp
(Oakmont, PA) shot rounds of 72-75 to miss the playoff by six shots.
Columbus, Ohio (120 players for 14 spots)
In a qualifier full of PGA Tour pros playing the day after the Memorial at nearby Muirfield Village, one amateur managed to take one of the 14 spots available. Ryan Lumsden
, a rising Northwestern University senior from Scotland, shot a 4-under 68 at Brookside G&CC, then got off to a great start at the Lakes G&CC in the afternoon, going 3-under through 3 holes. But he hit a rough patch in the middle of his round, and then when he doubled the par-3 14th, he was back to even for the day and outside the cut line. But he birdied 16 and 18 to get to 6 under and take the last qualifying spot without a playoff. He tied four Tour players: Adam Scott, Aaron Baddeley, Harold Varner, and Ollie Schniederjans.
Springfield, Ohio (65 players for 5 spots)
Rising Ohio State senior Will Grimmer
(Cincinnati, OH) will make a return trip to the U.S. Open, after first qualifying as a 17-year-old in 2014 at Pinehurst. Grimmer shot 66-69 at the par-70 Springfield Country Club to earn medalist honors.
Rising Ball State senior Timothy Wiseman
(Corydon, IN) shot 68-70 (-2) and then got through a 3-for-2 playoff against two professionals.
Memphis, Tennessee (117 players for 11 spots)
In the other sectional qualifier full of Tour pros (ahead of the FedEx St. Jude Classic), one amateur broke through and earned his way to Shinnecock Hills. Ole Miss rising senior Braden Thornberry
, who was the #1 ranked amateur in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Amateur Ranking for nearly a year before recently dropping to #4, shot rounds of 66-68 at Ridgeway CC and Colonial CC.
Thornberry, the 2017 AmateurGolf.com Player-of-the-Year
, played well in Memphis last year, finishing T4 in the FedEx St. Jude Classic
Portland, Oregon (81 players for 4 spots)
(Eugene, OR), a member of the University of Oregon's national championship team in 2016, was the only amateur to advance. After shooting an even-par 71 at Portland Golf Club, Raza found himself behind 21 players. But a 5-under 66 in the afternoon propelled him past all but two of them, and he qualified with a 5-under 137 total.
No other amateur was within four shots of the final qualifying spot.
Surrey, England (120 players for 14 spots)
There were only 5 amateurs in the 120-player field at Walton Heath Golf Club, but one of them, 20-year-old Kristoffer Reitan of Norway, made it through to Shinnecock Hills. As a teenager, Reitan made a verba commitment to play golf at the University of Texas, but changed his mind and stayed home.
Reitan shot a 3-under 69 on the New Course in the morning, and followed it up with a 3-under 69 on the Old Course in the afternoon. Reitan bogeyed the long par-4 first hole on the Old Course, then made four birdies thereafter, including a 2 at the 17th. The last birdie was particularly useful--had he not made it , he would have had to enter a 10-for-2 playoff.
The 118th U.S. Open Championship begins June 14 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York.