The Olympic torch took a lap through Rory McIlroy's hometown of Hollywood, Northern Island, early this morning.
An omen for the World No. 2? Maybe not.
But hundreds of pros and top-level amateurs are hoping for something to get them to the Olympic Club for this year's U.S. Open, now just a week and a half away, as Sectional Qualifying tournaments tee off across the country.
Among the hopefuls is Chris Stein, head pro at the Olympic Club, who wishes to log some serious overtime next week.
Stein, 49, is playing in today’s Bay Area qualifier for a chance to compete in the national championship on his home track, according to the San Francisco Examiner. He's made it this far once before, falling just short of making the ’85 Open at Oakland Hills. Today, he's hoping for a couple of member's bounces:
“Knowing you’ve got a chance — 36 holes from possibly playing in the U.S. Open that you’re the head professional at, it’s quite a thrill,” Stein said. “You don’t get this chance very much in your lifetime.”
But in vying for one of six coveted slots into the U.S. Open at his home course on June 14-17 of a 129-player sectional field, Stein is employing a “we’ll see what happens on Monday” attitude.
He enters today’s contest nursing a bulging disk and nerve issues he sustained while playing in a tourney in early March. But despite his lumps, the local pro is looking to swing smart and often.
“I’m going to go out there and give it my best shot and just hope that I can stay calm, and play well enough to possibly do it,” he said.”
For more storylines from today’s qualifying, head over to the USGA’s website for a list of the big names still angling for a spot in the Open. Of note: giants of yore Davis Love III and David Duval; little giant of yore Fred Funk; past champ Lee Janzen; and Casey Martin, who ifs hoping to get back to the site of the 1998 U.S. Open, where he famously competed following a landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized the use of carts on the PGA Tour for players with medical disabilities. (For more on Martin, check out Bob Harig at ESPN.com) Cleveland Browns QB wears orange to follow Fowler at Memorial Cleveland Browns rookie QB Brandon Weeden put on a different uniform to follow fellow Oklahoma State Cowboy Rickie Fowler play his final round at the Memorial. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Weeden watched Fowler play his way into contention Saturday in his civilian clothes, but decided to show up Sunday in full regalia, making a pit stop en route to Muirfield to get Fowler’s look. That oh-so-orange look:
Weeden … bought his orange shirt, orange pants and white belt at Golf Galaxy on Sunday morning. After following Fowler in normal attire Saturday, he decided to step it up a notch . . . or 20. He looked like Fowler's stunt double.
"I wanted to give him support," Weeden said. "But he had to bring the hat for me. They didn't have any hats."
Turnabout is fair play. Fowler's photo on Twitter shows him in an Oklahoma State football jersey walking behind former Cowboys receiver Justin Blackmon. While Fowler was drawing unwanted attention for a round that included two birdies, five pars, eight bogeys and three double bogeys, Weeden walked the course, drawing his own looks from the gallery. A first-round draft pick who could glow in the dark? Yeah, people saw him.
"It's probably a bad idea to wear this getup, I guess," Weeden said with a smile.
The Fowlerites needed the levity, as their golfing idol finished five shots higher than in any of his previous PGA Tour rounds. Fowler, for his part, said Weeden's sartorial choices didn't jinx him.
"No, no, all on me today," Fowler said. "He can pull it off. He's just a lot bigger than me."
While Weeden looked like Fowler, Fowler played a lot like Weeden, firing off an 84, his highest round as a pro. Doc Rivers takes notes from Tiger Doc Rivers was going to watch Tiger Woods finish on Sunday, Eastern Conference Finals be damned. According to Yahoo’s Devil Ball Golf, the Celtic’s head coach rolled in late to Game 4 against the Miami Heat because wanted to see the end of the Memorial, just like the rest of us:
"It was unbelievable," Rivers said before the start of Game 4.
"Oh, yeah, I was watching. I was trying to leave my house to get here, and it delayed me for a couple of minutes, but that's fine. That's really cool."
Maybe Doc took some pointers from Tiger’s comeback: his Celtics evened up their series at 2-2 with a 93-91 OT win late Sunday night. Who cares if the boss is late, anyway?
Tweet of the Day: We are all believers, apparently.
Tiger is the man
— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) June 4, 2012