Strength of the Amateur Game on Full Display in Houston
Jacob Bergeron (L) and Philip Barbaree (LSU photos)
Jacob Bergeron (L) and Philip Barbaree (LSU photos)

By Art Stricklin

HOUSTON – A true U.S. Open amateur hour broke out at sectional qualifying Monday, as co-medalists Jacob Bergeron and Philip Barbaree, both amateurs, shot 11-under 133 to assure their spots for the Open at Shinnecock Hills, June 14-17.

The two LSU teammates alternated hot rounds on a steamy day at Shadow Hawk Golf Club, with Bergeron starting out with an 8-under-par 64 and finishing up with a 69. Barbaree started with a 68, finished with a 65, including a final hole birdie to gain the U.S. Open spot.

“I think the top of the amateur game equal to the top of the pro game; the biggest difference is they (pros) are so much more consistent. There are a lot of good amateur players and that you see on the Tour,” said Barbaree, a Shreveport, Louisiana native.

Web.com professional veteran Chris Naegel (Wildwood, Missouri) grabbed the final U.S. Open ticket with a 10-under-par 135, prevailing in a one-hole playoff over Dallas amateur Blaine Hale.

While the United States Golf Association does not keep exact records, longtime USGA officials were hard pressed to remember two amateur co-medalist in any sectional U.S. Open qualifier.

“That’s were the game of golf is these days,” said Bergeron, a Slidell, Louisiana native whose day Wendell caddied for him. “The players are getting younger and better.”

Both LSU teammates will be making their first trip to the U.S. national championship. Bergeron said he had never shot better than 75 in an Open qualifier, but felt he had the game to make his first Open.

“This kind of came out of the blue for me, but this is the best I played since the SEC tournament in April,” said Bergeron. I know I’m fortunate to be going to the Open and playing against the best players in the world. I like to say I won’t be nervous up there, but I know I will be.”

Barbaree, whose caddy is a longtime Louisiana Sports Editor Roy Lang III, finished 10th in the sectional qualifying last year.

“It’s just an incredible day and an incredible time,” Barbaree said. “I really excited to get up there and see the course.”

Both Barbaree and Hale were products of the Texas Golf Association elite Legends Junior Tour circuit.

During some down time last week before the sectional qualifying, Bergeron found himself surfing Google Earth, and decided to check out the Shinnecock Hills course.

“I probably couldn’t tell you where the first tee is there, but I saw it’s got a very cool clubhouse.”

Among those who fell short was NCAA Oklahoma State hero Matthew Wolff, who finished at 7- under, three shots out of qualifying.

Related: Oklahoma State, Home Crowd Overwhelm 'Bama for NCAA Title

“I would have played in the Open, but I’m taking the entire month of June off,” said Wolff. “It’s been a very hectic three weeks for me. This spring has given me the confidence I can complete at a high level and competing back next fall as a sophomore I’m looking forward to doing that.”

Results: U.S. Open Final Qualifying
MedalistCanadaGarrett RankCanada500
MedalistLAPhilip BarbareeShreveport, LA500
MedalistFLLuis GagneOrlando, FL500
MedalistOHWill GrimmerCincinnati, OH500
MedalistChinese TaipeiChun An YuChinese Taipei500

View full results for U.S. Open Final Qualifying

ABOUT THE U.S. Open Final Qualifying

Final qualifying for the U.S. Open Championship. Played at various sites across the U.S. on the Monday a week and half before the U.S. Open. There is also a qualifier in Japan and in England. 36 holes of stroke play at each site.

View Complete Tournament Information

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