COLUMBUS, Ohio — Adam Scott spent five weeks trying to secure his spot in the world ranking to get into the U.S. Open. The last resort was his first 36-hole sectional qualifier, and the former Masters champion and world No. 1 made it Monday with one stroke to spare.
Scott kept alive his 17-year streak playing in all the majors with a two-putt from 30 feet for par on his final hole at The Lakes Golf and Country Club. And even-par 72 for a 6-under 138 total was just enough for him to avoid a 10-man playoff for the final spot.
“It’s a nice streak to keep going, but it will be better if I win the U.S. Open,” Scott said. “I am playing all these majors to win them, not just to show up, so I’d like to make the most of this opportunity.”
The U.S. Open is June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills.
Scott will be competing in his 68th consecutive major, a streak that began after he missed the 2001 U.S. Open. Scott was scheduled to play a qualifier that year, but decided against it.
This time, it was 36 holes or bust. The top 60 in the world after next week get into the U.S. Open, but the 37-year-old Australian had already decided that he wasn’t playing the FedEx St. Jude Classic this week in Memphis, Tennessee.
“I wanted a week off,” he said after opening with a 66 at Brookside in the morning.
The longest day of golf featured 11 sectional qualifiers across eight time zones, from England to California, with 869 players trying to earn 71 spots. The USGA held back six spots for those who crack the top 60 in the world next week.
Shane Lowry of Ireland, who has yet to finish better than a tie for 14th all year, found his game on a beautiful day in central Ohio with rounds of 68-67 to share medallist honours with Sungjae Im of South Korea, who leads the Web.com Tour money list.
As usual, Brookside and The Lakes had the majority of PGA Tour players, some of them wearing shorts in a setting that hardly looked like a PGA Tour event. It sure didn’t feel like one, either, at least not to Keegan Bradley. The former PGA champion made it to his seventh straight U.S. Open, and it was a grind. He had to qualify for the second straight year.
“It reminded me of tour school. There’s no joy,” Bradley said with a smile that showed his relief. “It’s humbling to come here.”
Russell Knox figured he would be sitting out this U.S. Open when he was 3 under for the tournament, three shots below the projected cutoff, and had five holes to play. He made birdie putts of 30 feet, 18 feet and 4 feet, saved par from the bunker with a 6-foot putt and then birdied the 18th from 20 feet to make it by two.
Michael Putnam nearly didn’t make it to The Lakes after he opened with a 1-over 73 at Brookside. He figured he would give it nine more holes, and then he wound up with a 64 to make it with room to spare.
Among those who failed to qualify were Vijay Singh and 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann, who contended last week at the Memorial.
The other qualifier with mostly PGA Tour players was near Memphis, Tennessee, and 51-year-old Steve Stricker earned one of the 11 spots. Stricker shot 65 and tied for second with Mackenzie Hughes of Canada. The medallist was Sam Burns, who didn’t have much stress after opening with a 62.
Thorbjorn Olesen wrapped up his best 24 hours of golf this year by earning one of 14 spots from the qualifier at Walton Heath. The British sectional offered as many spots as the PGA Tour section in Columbus, and three more than the secondary PGA Tour sectional in Memphis, Tennessee. Olesen won the Italian Open on Sunday, and then had rounds of 67-71 to avoid a playoff.
Paul Waring won the nine-man playoff for the final spot.
Andrew “Beef” Johnston and James Morrison led the 14 qualifiers. Also getting through was Tom Lewis of England, who shared the first-round lead as an amateur in the 2011 British Open at Royal St. George’s.
Cameron Wilson made it to his third U.S. Open by sharing medallist honours at Canoe Brook Country Club with Calum Hill of Scotland. Hill wanted to play the qualifier in England, but there wasn’t room for him with so many European Tour players in the field. So he flew to New Jersey.
Also advancing was former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad. Theo Humphrey earned the fifth and final spot in a playoff.
Will Grimmer made it to the U.S. Open as a teenager, and he’s heading back as a college player at Ohio State. Grimmer shot 66-69 to lead the five qualifiers at Springfield Country Club, the other sectional in Columbus.
He finished one shot ahead of former Illinois player Dylan Meyer. Timothy Wiseman got the final spot in a playoff over Corey Conners of Canada.
Luis Gagne of Costa Rica led the three qualifiers from The Bear’s Club with rounds of 68-70, two shots ahead of PGA Tour player Richy Werenski. The other spot went to Tyler Strafaci, who won a six-man playoff for the last spot. The playoff included Christian DiMarco, the son of Chris DiMarco. Also missing out was Andy Zhang, who first played the U.S. Open in 2012 at Olympic Club as a 14-year-old.
Sebastian Munoz of Colombia had rounds of 67-69 to lead the four qualifiers at Woodmont. He was two shots clear of Tim Wilkinson of New Zealand, with a pair of amateurs, Cole Miller and Mickey DeMorat, earning the other two spots. DeMorat won a three-man playoff involving Billy Hurley for the final spot.
A pair of LSU golfers, Jacob Bergeron and former U.S. Junior Amateur champion Philip Barbaree, shared medallist honours at Shadow Hawk Golf Club. The other spot went to Chris Naegel, who finished one shot behind.
Garrett Rank will be trading skates for spikes at Shinnecock Hills. Rank, an NHL referee, shared medallist honours with Michael Hebert to get one of three spots in the qualifier in Roswell, Georgia.
Roberto Castro got the final spot in a 2-for-1 playoff.