After missing out last year, Jackson Buchanan is heading to the U.S. Open
Jackson Buchanan (Illinois Athletics Photo)
Jackson Buchanan (Illinois Athletics Photo)

Jackson Buchanan has put together a stellar 2023-24 campaign. 

And now he is heading to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

According to Illinois Athletics, the junior led the team with eight top-10 finishes and tied for the team lead with 12 rounds in the 60s. He won the 2024 Duck Invitational and finished in solo second place at the Big Ten championships

“It was my second time,” Buchanan said about U.S. Open final qualifying. “There was not much pressure on the first 18 (holes), so I just went out there and tried to enjoy the day. The pressure is nothing compared to Nationals.”

Buchanan added, “I enjoyed the first round, and after I shot 64, I just tried to turn it on."

Buchanan is ranked No. 8 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings.

Buchanan finished as the medalist at the Golf Club of Georgia, the Lakeside Course, in Alpharetta, Ga., after shooting 13-under. The Georgia site was a qualifying site loaded with the top amateurs in the game, including David Ford of North Carolina, Carson Bacha of Auburn, and Jackson Koivun of Auburn.

Chris Petefish tied Buchanan for medalist honors at 13-under, and recent Florida State graduate Frederik Kjettrup shot 12-under to earn the third and final qualifying spot.

“It’s cool,” Buchanan said. “When you look at the qualifier and realize it’s the best amateurs in the world, you know it is a loaded field. Amateur golf has skyrocketed, and the top amateurs are good enough to play with the pros.”

Buchanan added, “You know you have to bring it.”

There were three qualifying spots for 68 golfers, and if you did not shoot 12-under, you did not earn a spot at Pinehurst. 

However, that didn’t affect the way Buchanan approached his two rounds.

“It’s about staying in the present and hitting the shot you have at hand,” he said. 

Last year, in his first attempt at final qualifying, Buchanan made a bogey on the 36th hole to miss out on a U.S. Open spot by one shot. 

“Coming down the stretch, I remembered last year, and experience is everything,” Buchanan said.  “It definitely helped me.” 

Also, collegiate golfers have a distinct advantage since they often play 36 hole days throughout the season.

“36-hole days are so common for us that it is almost weird if we play 18 holes in a day,” Buchanan said. 

“It was long, but nothing I am not used to, and playing college golf is 100 percent an advantage,” Buchanan added. 

Buchanan also knows what success looks like at Pinehurst, after playing in the North & South Amateur last year and shooting a 70 on No. 2. The best score of the day was a 69 from 2023 U.S. Amateur champion and now pro golfer Nick Dunlap.

“If that doesn’t tell you how hard Pinehurst is, I don’t know what does,” Buchanan said with a laugh. 

“You have to putt a lot around the greens like Kaymer did in 2014,” Buchanan added, “ I am excited and love to compete, and when you get to compete against the best in the world, it makes it even more fun.” 

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