Three amateurs make it through Maryland U.S. Open final qualifier in wild finish
05 Jun 2023
by AmateurGolf.com Staff

By Garrett Johnston for AmateurGolf.com

On a warm day at the US Open Final Qualifier at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, three different amateurs punched their tickets to the U.S. Open.

Isaac Simmons and Karl Vilips landed co-medalist honors during a wild finish. Four players tied at 3-under including pros Ben Kohles and Sebastian Munoz, along with amateurs Michael Brennan and George Duangmanee; a 4-for-2 playoff for the final two spots began at 7:30pm.

Munoz and Brennan snatched the two spots in what would prove to be only a one-hole playoff. Munoz made birdie to get into his fifth U.S. Open after first qualifying here in 2018 and Brennan made par to get through to his first U.S. Open in five tries of Final Qualifying at this site. The 21-year-old made it through after first trying at age 15 in 2017. Kohles made bogey and takes alternate spot number one while Duanmanee’s double bogey finish led to alternate spot two.

This is the first U.S. Open for the three amateurs that made it.

“It’s unbelievable, I’m so lucky,” Brennan said afterward. “Today was a great day out there. Five tries (at Woodmont) is a lot but I guess it’s not that much (laughs). Golf’s a big part of my life and to be able to be successful today means a lot.”

Brennan went out to the U.S. Open in 2021 across the country from his home in Leesburg, Virginia to San Diego as an alternate. His brother Sean joined as his caddie and they waited and agonized for a chance to get into the tournament. They ran into Brooks Koepka and played practice rounds with Patrick Rodgers but ultimately never got the call.

So getting in this time for next week at LACC made it all the sweeter for Brennan as he heads all the way back to Southern California.

“That was a little frustrating to have to wait around on that Thursday (2021 US Open), it was a long, long day and I’m just glad that I won’t have to do that and I’ve got a tee time.” For the Liberty senior Simmons, it’s special to get into his first major.

“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet but it feels awesome, that’s what you work for right? I don’t feel shocked but in another sense, it’s hard to believe. I really have been practicing hard and stayed patient out there and it’s just really nice to see the hard work pay off,” Simmons said.

His dad Scott was on the bag for him for the second straight year and was overcome with emotion when they finished.

“It’s unbelievable, watching him grow up and play this game, you dream of moments like this for him,” Scott Simmons said.

For Vilips, getting through to his first U.S. Open felt satisfying.

“I just hung in there the whole day, I knew I was kind of close, but man it’s awesome. To have it happen today with my old coach Stephen Bosdosh on the bag and to have my dad here was pretty special.

“It’s just awesome to be going to LA to play the U.S. Open, obviously It’s my first and I don’t know what to expect but I’m looking forward to the experience.”

His current swing coach Colin Swatton (who once coached Jason Day) chimed in from afar when he saw his pupil made it through.

“I’m so proud of Karl, he has worked super hard on the improvements to his game,” Swatton said. “Now he gets to test them out on one of the biggest stages on Tour. I’m a proud coach.”

Dungmanee was frustrated with the outcome, but still saw a silver lining.

“I know that I can hang with these guys, and I know one day my time will come. It’s just tough to finish like this, but a lot of positives to take away,” Duangmanee said.

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