I made it through U.S. Open Local Qualifying!
Here’s a little recap of how it went:
It was an extremely tough round in 50 degrees and 30mph winds. I got started steadily will several pars despite being really cold and fighting the wind. But after making three bogeys in a row on holes 6, 7, and 8 I had the familiar thought that I was blowing it early on. But I realized how difficult it was going to be for everyone so I just kept playing as if I still had a chance.
I made a really good par on 9 and then two birdies in a row on 10 and 11 to get back to 1-over and I felt like I got back in it. Usually in U.S. Open qualifiers scores like 66 or 67 make it through, but this was crazy weather, so in the back of my mind I thought I might have a chance if I can finish at 1-over.
Just as I was feeling back in it I made a couple bad swings on 12 and then on the long 13th and gave those two birdies right back. So at that point I really thought I had lost my chance, because I knew how tough it was going to be to make birdies coming in.
But I told myself I didn’t go all the way up to Massachusetts to give up during the round. So I made two of the best up-and-down par saves I’ve ever had on 14 and 15, and then hit a close one on the short 16th and made another birdie! Again I felt like I might be able to pull it off. So I go to the long, into the wind 17th, and hit the best drive and iron shots I’ve hit in a very long time, all while feeling the pressure of getting past Local Stage. I hit a good birdie putt, but I missed it. Par was still a great score.
So I went to the 18th feeling like I’ve got a chance to do this. I hit a great hybrid and a great second shot to about 20 feet. I was really feeling the heartbeat over this putt. At the time I thought if I make it I would win the qualifier, and a par would maybe get me into a playoff. I’m really not sure why I thought this, but that’s what I was thinking as I was surveying the putts. I hit a good first putt, but it rolled a little bit past, about two and a half feet. No problem, I’ve been making these all day. But I could physically feel my heart beating, and I let it get the better of me. I missed it and I thought I had thrown it away. I walked up towards the scoring area and my friend Casey, who also played in the qualifier, told me that I had tied some other guys for the lead. So that was a huge relief, but I still had missed a putt to get in outright.
One guy shot 72 and 6 people shot 73. So we had to go to a 6-man playoff to decide the next 4 spots. We went back to the short par-3 16th where I hit a good one not too long before. I hit 5th out of the 6 guys and was about 15 feet away in the fringe. Four guys hit their putts and marked them and then I rolled mine up and tapped it in for par. So I sat back and watched as two of the six guys 3-putted for bogey. That was it! I made it through! That moment felt pretty good.
For those who don’t know how this process works, people who aren’t exempt to play in the U.S. Open have to go through Local Qualifying (first stage) which has roughly 10,000 people sign up every year, Sectional Qualifying (second stage) which is 11 international sites hosting all the players who made it through Local Qualifying, then the actual U.S. Open. So that means if I play well and make it through the Sectional Qualifier then I will be playing in the U.S. Open!
I will know May 26th where my qualifier will be, but my first pick for a location is Canoe Brook CC in Summit, New Jersey on June 6th. It looks like an awesome course.
I will keep the site updated as best I can.
Thanks to everyone who’s congratulated and encouraged me.