In a few weeks we will be treated to the US Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links - June 14-20, 2010. The United States Open Championship is open to any professional golfer, and any amateur golfer with a handicap of 1.4 or less. That means any guy with the right handicap and a dream could have the chance to compete at the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach!
At the close of entries on April 28, 2010, there were 9,052 men who turned in applications, including 63 players who were already fully exempt into the Championship (as of May 10). Each guy forked over $150 to start the dream to get to Pebble Beach.
On May 17, Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minnesota (site of the 2009 PGA Championship!) hosted 148 dreamers vying for the low 7 scores (and ties). Most of the guys were from Minnesota, but there were players from several other Midwest states, and there were also entries from Alabama, California, South Carolina, and a couple from Canada.
Three guys tied for 7th place, so 9 players were able to advance to Sectional Qualifying to be held on June 7, in 13 locations around the United States. The medalist at Hazeltine was Andy Paulson from Lino Lakes, Minnesota. Paulson was the only player in the field to break par, shooting a -1, 71. A quick search about Andy turned up that he played golf for the University of Minnesota (graduating in 2009) and is currently playing golf on the Gateway Tour (in the AZ area) according to the Minnesota Golf Association website. He was also the 2004 State AA High School golf champion.
Andy is heading off to Illinois on June 7 to the sectional qualifying. Also from Minnesota is the Pro from Edinburgh USA, Don Berry. He shot a 1 over par 73 to also make it to Sectionals. Another player from Minnesota, Niall Turner, was the medalist in Springfield, IL on May 17, and is also heading to the Bull Valley Country Club in Illinois with Paulson and Berry. Turner was one of the guys I was following last year at Q-school and I think Sam Johnson even got to meet him in Texas - he didn't make it out of the second round of Q-school last year, but here's hoping we might see him at Pebble Beach!!
Keep in mind, this is no easy task for these dreamers...once all the exemptions are handed out there are less than 95 spots left in the field of 156 to qualify for (maybe closer to 85 once all is said and done)...and besides the 550 players who advanced out of the local qualifiers, there are other players in the sectional qualifiers who were able to skip the first round, some of those being PGA Tour players and other top ranked professionals.
One of my favorite players yet to breakout is Erik Compton - as you know, Erik will be playing the Memorial this weekend on a sponsor's exemption, and then is heading to the sectional qualifying for the US Open in Springfield, OH on Monday. Compton tied for medalist honors in the local qualifying in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida in May.
You may have also read that Vijay Singh has received a special exemption into the US Open - this 3 time Major winner has fallen out of the top 50 in the World Golf Ranking for the first time in over 18 years and without that exemption he would have been forced to play in one of the sectional qualifiers. I think it's a very well deserved exemption since Singh has been working on recovering from injuries recently. Another special exemption has been offered to Tom Watson...another great move considering the magic he produced at Pebble in 1982.
The fields are taking shape and the dreamers are working hard to get their game in shape to battle for a spot at the US Open. If there is a sectional qualifier near you, I bet it would be a great day to watch some golf...and some dreams being made. Check out the list here: http://usga.usopen.com/2010/qualifying/sectional-results.html?nid=3
If you are interested in learning more about the US Open Qualifying, check out the official US Open Web Page: http://www.usopen.com/en_US/index.html
If you want to check out which players advanced out of the Local Qualifying, go here:
If you want to see where these players are heading to play in the Sectional Qualifying, type in their name in the Entrant Look Up here:
Best of luck to all of the dreamers out there who will be trying to qualify on Monday, June 7 - and especially to Andy, Don, Niall, (and all the other Minnesota qualifiers!) and Erik Compton. I'm rooting for you and hoping to see you playing at Pebble Beach!!
Filed under: Sam Johnson, Erik Compton, US Open, Hazeltine, Cathy Erickson, Tom Watson, Pebble Beach, Vijay Singh, Don Berry, Andy Paulson, Niall Turner