TADSWORTH, England (AP) — Andrew “Beef” Johnston made his third eagle of the day at just the right time and was among 15 players who earned a spot in the U.S. Open at a 36-hole sectional qualifier in England.
Aaron Rai of England, who already has won two Challenge Tour events this year, was the medalist Monday at Walton Heath. He had rounds of 66-64 and finished one shot ahead of Li Haotong of China, who also will be playing in his first major.
Among those who failed to qualify was Padraig Harrington, who opened with a 77. While others who started with high scores withdrew, the three-time major champion went back out for his second round and shot 68, though it wasn’t close to qualifying.
The final four spots were determined by a seven-man playoff.
Paul Dunne of Ireland, who shared the 54-hole lead at St. Andrews two years ago in the British Open, and Thomas Aiken of South Africa each made par on the par-3 opening hole on the New Course and the par-3 17th on the Old Course at Walton Heath. Matt Wallace (par) and Wade Ormsby (bogey) advanced on the second extra hole.
Richie Ramsay will be playing the U.S. Open for the first time in 10 years, and his first one as a pro. Ramsay played in 2007 at Oakmont as the U.S. Amateur champion.
Johnston, the bearded Englishman with a love for burgers, made a hole-in-one on the par-3 second hole of the New Course. He made an eagle 2 on the par-4 third hole of the Old Course in the afternoon, and then added an eagle on the par-5 16th hole that sent him to a 66 and inside the cut line.
Johnston finished at 10-under 134. The seven-for-four playoff was at 9-under 135.
The others to qualify were Oliver Bekker, George Coetzee and Brandon Stone of South Africa; Alexander Levy and Joel Stalter of France; Eddie Pepperell of England; and Bradley Dredge of Wales.
The U.S. Open is June 15-18 at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
Missing out was Welsh amateur David Boote, who opened with a 62 on the New Course. He followed with a 73 to get into the playoff, only to get eliminated with a bogey on the first extra hole.
Others who failed to qualify were former PGA champion Y.E. Yang and Ryder Cup player Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium.
That brings the field to 93 players.
Still to be played is the U.S. qualifier on June 5 at 10 sites across America. The rest of the 156-man field will be decided by those not already eligible to get into the top 60 in the world ranking published June 11, the Sunday before the U.S. Open.