|67 Players for 4 Qualifying Positions || |
|by Veteran Golf Writer, Bucky Albers || |
The United States Golf Association accepted 9,882 entries for the 2015 U.S. Open Championship. Only 156 will tee it up on June 18 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
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The odds remain long for the 67 players who will participate in the Sectional qualifier June 8 at the venerable Springfield Country Club. They are faced with a challenging 36-hole test on a course designed by Donald Ross. Only a few, maybe three or four, will rise to the top and receive invitations to compete with the world's best golfers at Chambers Bay. The odds do not deter them from chasing the dream of playing in the Open.
Many have already cleared one hurdle. They have outplayed others over 18 holes in one of 111 local contests throughout the country. Sectional qualifying is held on the same day at 10 sites in the United States following two international competitions (in England and Japan) on May 25. Ohio is the only state with more than one sectional. For the convenience of the PGA pros playing in the Memorial Tournament, Columbus hosts a sectional.
A number of years ago the USGA added a second sectional in Ohio to accommodate golfers in the Midwest. The first few were held at Double Eagle before moving to Springfield CC in 2008. Review past results
All eyes at Springfield Country Club will surely be following the progress of Brian Stuard, a 32-year-old PGA Tour pro from Jackson, Mich. Stuard has been medalist in the event the last two years with 11-under-par scores of 129. He shot 65 and 64 in 2013 and followed with 64-65 last year. Teen-ager Will Grimmer of Cincinnati, the runner-up in 2014, was six strokes behind but grabbed one of three spots in the Open. Chris Thompson of Lawrence, Kan., was third. All three are in the field along with Jesse Hutchins of Statesville, N.C., who qualified in 2011. Grimmer is only 18 years old, but he won't be the youngest player in Springfield. James Piot of Canton, Mich., is 16.
The oldest contestant at Springfield will be 51-year-old former touring pro Bob Friend of Pittsburgh, Pa., who has played in the Open four times. Friend, director of operations at Pikewood National Golf Course in Morgantown, W. Va., obviously hasn't lost his desire to play in the Open.