On June 8 the USGA held 10 sectional US Open qualifiers around the US to fill 58 spots in the 156 man Open field. Those lucky and good enough to survive local qualifying got to play 36 holes, usually over two different courses in the same area, to attempt to qualify for the Open at Chambers Bay June 18-21.
We root for those amateurs, club pros, and PGA Tour pros with connections to Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas–and there were over 10 of them who made it through local qualifying. Alas, no “local” ams made it through, and only Tour pro Robert Streb from the KC area (and last year’s winner of the Watson Challenge) survived a sectional (in Ohio) and will be playing at Chambers Bay. Scott Langley, a Tour pro from St. Louis who attended Illinois, came agonizingly close. He finished one shot out of qualifying at the sectional in Ohio.
To add to the fun, those with “alternate” designations from local qualifying often get a late call to compete in a sectional because of WDs due to injury among the qualifiers. One such alternate was STL elite am Skip Berkmeyer. (We have no idea how the USGA figures the order in which alternates get the call, but we’re sure they have a formula. We do know that the number of spots available at a given venue is determined by the size and strength of the field. Thus the field in Ohio that had lots of Tour pros who had stayed over from the Memorial event had 15 available spots.)
Skip says, “I got a call Saturday night (June 6) from the USGA. Drove to Memphis (the closest qualifier) Sunday morning after checking with my family that it was ok to go. Maybe not having seen, much less played, the courses in Memphis is the way to go… Usually I’m pretty prepared and have played at least one practice round at the courses.” Skip didn’t make it in Memphis, as most of the qualifying scores there and around the country were quite low.
We’re really looking forward to this Open–for a couple of reasons. One, Chambers Bay is relatively untested as a venue– though they did hold the 2010 US Am there. And two, Fox won the rights to the weekend TV coverage for the first time in their history and will be doing the broadcast over the weekend.