U.S. Open: 10 Takeaways From Sectional Qualifying
There are still a few matters to be decided at the 36-hole, 10-site U.S. Open sectional qualifiers, which were only partially completed as darkness fell on Monday. Many players had to come back to the course Tuesday morning thanks to thunderstorms in Jacksonville, Fla., and a playoff in Powell, Ohio. Still, here are 10 takeaways from what are always some of the most thrilling (and heartbreaking) days on the golf calendar:
1. As the 2015 U.S. Amateur champion, Bryson DeChambeau would have been exempt into this U.S. Open, but he gave up his exemption when he turned pro after the Masters. No matter. The so-called "Golf Scientist" with the newsboy cap and funky clubs shot 70-63 in Powell, Ohio, to shoot 9-under and qualify second behind Carlos Ortiz.
2. Things are looking up for Ortiz, who has missed eight cuts in his last nine starts on the PGA Tour. The Mexican pro, who won three Web.com titles in 2014, shot 66-66 to sail through in Powell.
3. A half-dozen players returned to that same venue Tuesday morning to compete in a 6-for-5 playoff. Among them: former world No. 1 Luke Donald, who made two pars to advance to the Open. Patrick Rodgers, Jason Allred, Richard Schembechler II and Scottie Scheffler also advanced in the playoff.
4. Pittsburgh's Mike Van Sickle, son of Sports Illustrated senior writer Gary Van Sickle, knows how to play Oakmont, having won a junior tournament there, and now he may get a return trip there for a slightly bigger event. Although Van Sickle lost a 3-for-2 playoff in Rockville, Md., the first alternate from that site earned a spot in Chambers Bay last year, and as any golf fan knows there's already one player (initials T.W.) who looks like he might need a sub.
5. Jason Allred was an alternate for the Powell, Ohio, qualifier and didn't even know if he'd get to play after flying in Sunday night from the Web.com event in the Dominican Republic. Allred showed up to the course at 6 a.m. Monday, learned he'd go off at 6:40, teed off at 7:20, shot 68-69 and advanced in a 6-for-5 playoff to punch his ticket to Oakmont.
6. Amateur Chris Crawford, who played for Drexel University in Philly, enjoyed the nuttiest finish of the day. On the bubble at the Canoe Brook sectional in New Jersey, Crawford played the par-5 18th hole up an adjacent fairway, hit his third shot over a stand of trees to 40 feet, and drained the birdie putt to advance to Oakmont. A two-putt par would have landed him in a 5-for-1 playoff.
7. Puerto Rico Open champion Tony Finau suffered some heartache after he birdied the par-3 ninth hole, his last, to seemingly make the field with a 1-under 139 effort at the Springfield, Ohio, sectional. But Charlie Danielson, 22, of Osceola, Wis., also birdied his last hole of regulation, then beat Finau in a sudden-death playoff. Danielson only needed a par after Finau sprayed his drive on the first extra hole and had to scramble for bogey.
8. Aaron Wise of University of Oregon fame is living large. Wise, who last week won the NCAA individual title -- the Ducks also won the team title with a riveting defeat of Texas -- was leading the Vancouver, Wash., sectional with four holes to play. Austin Connelly, a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, was finished and will get through after a bogey-free performance.
9. Kevin Tway, son of longtime PGA Tour pro Bob, will play in his third U.S. Open after surviving the Houston sectional with Derek Chang and Austin Jordan, both of whom will be playing in their first U.S. Open. Kevin Tway won the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur and notched an 11th-place finish on the Web.com tour last weekend.
10. Luis Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines looks like he might be pretty good, or a whole lot better than that. He opened with a 29(!) at the sectional qualifier in Daly City, Calif., at Lake Merced and the Olympic Club, and ran away from the field at 11-under.