With past close calls in mind, Florida's Parker Bell earns spot in the 2024 U.S. Open
Parker Bell (USGA Photo)
Parker Bell (USGA Photo)

Florida college star Parker Bell overcame an agonizing history of amateur near misses on the golf course to roll in a clutch five-foot clutch birdie Monday in a U.S. Open Final Stage 7-for-6 playoff and qualify for his first professional golf major as an amateur, the 2024 U.S. Open next month at Pinehurst Golf Resort in Pinehurst, NC.

“To get so close before and then roll in one of the biggest putts I’ve ever had in my life means so much to me,” said Bell, a junior this fall at the University of Florida, who will play for the Gators this weekend at the NCAA Championships in LaCosta, California. He shot a 70-69-139 total.

Columbia’s Nicholas Echavarria was the medalist at the Dallas Athletic Club, the site of the 1963 PGA Championship, with a 36-hole total of 135. Former Texas amateur champion and SMU college star McClure Meissner, who recently turned pro, was tied for second at 136. Italy’s Francesco Molinari also qualified with a tie for fourth at 138.

Former Masters champion and Austin, Texas resident Sergio Garcia, seeking his 25th straight US Open appearance, fell one shot short with a bogey on the first playoff hole. He is the first alternate in the Dallas qualifier and still has a chance to extend his streak.

Bell came agonizingly close to an amateur spot in the 2024 Masters but fell short in the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Golf Club in Denver last summer. He is ranked No. 68 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com U.S. Rankings

But after a double bogey on the par 4 16th hole at the Dallas Athletic Club Blue Course, he rallied with back-to-back pars to get into a playoff with five players for three U.S. Open spots.

“I was able to look at the live scoring after the double bogey and knew I still had a chance, so I didn’t have to do anything crazy on the last two holes,” Bell said.

After his two pars, he waited for the playoff on the DAC Gold Course, playing in the second group. Bell put his opening drive in the middle of the fairway, the longest of anybody in his foursome.

Knowing Garcia had already made a bogey and a par would at least extend the playoff, Bell put his wedge approach high on the left side of the fairway green sloping bank and watched it roll to within five feet of the cup.

“I had that same shot in regulation so I knew it would roll off the bank, I just didn’t wait to challenge the pin.”

Lining up the short putt that would send him to the USGA National Championship with the best players in the world, Bell said he felt surprisingly calm.

“I just thought about the money games back home and how I could do it,” Bell said.

After seeing the putt go in, he shot a short first pump and a big smile for his caddy Tank Larson, a Florida State golfer, who caddied for him at the U.S. Amateur last summer when his Masters dreams fell short.

“It was a lot of caddying today and a lot of fun,” Larson said.

It wasn’t as much fun for Garcia who was trying to extend his decades-plus streak of USGA U.S. Opens.

He was in good shape to advance most of the day before a watery triple bogey cost him on the back nine cost him. He rallied with a birdie on No. 17 and a nifty up and down for par on No. 18 of the Gold Course.

But he had the only bogey on the short par 4 first playoff hole and was eliminated.

“I don’t really want to talk about it, I have a lot of my mind,” Garcia said as he walked back to the clubhouse.

Nathan Petronzio of Texas finished one shot out of the playoff as his bogey proved costly on the 16 hole after 8 pars. He shot a 36-hole total of 140. Austyn Reily of Texas and Cooper Schultz of Kansas were two shots out of the playoff with 141 totals.

Austyn Reily wins 112th Texas Amateur

Molinari whose brother Eduardo won the U.S. Amateur title, while he won the 2018 British Open crown, said he was in Dallas for only one reason.

“There are a lot of young players here and a lot of older ones like me, but you can’t win a tournament if you don’t enter and I want to keep going.”

Results: U.S. Open Final Qualifying
MedalistGAJackson BuchananDacula, GA500
MedalistCTBen JamesMilford, CT500
QualifierFLParker BellTallahassee, FL400
QualifierCanadaAshton McCullochCanada400
QualifierFLLuke ClantonMiami Lakes, FL400

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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