The USGA has quietly been planning to debut a dinner for amateur contestants at the U.S. Open, similar to what takes place at The Masters each year.
They are going to need a bigger room at Erin Hills next Monday evening.
Scott Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, surprised many when he opened with a bogey-free, 9-under-par 63 in the first round of his U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., on Monday. Harvey returned a 1-over 71 in the afternoon round to finish at 8-under 134 and qualify for his first U.S. Open.
Harvey’s Open start will be his 25th in a USGA championship and second in a professional major; he played in the 2015 Masters by virtue of his 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur victory.
“I’m a 39-year-old amateur, and I’m going to play in the U.S. Open. I don’t even know how to describe it,” Harvey told USGA.org after the 36-hole qualifier.
Several other amateurs punched tickets to Erin Hills in the 10 sectional qualifiers staged across the country Monday.
Christopher Crawford, a recent Drexel University graduate who will make his second consecutive U.S. Open start, joined Harvey in qualifying at Canoe Brook.
In Newport Beach, Calif., amateurs claimed five of the six Open berths on offer at Big Canyon Country Club. Hawaii’s John Oda, a candidate for the 2017 U.S. Walker Cup team, posted an 11-under 132 total to claim medalist honors after opening with 64. Arizona State University commit Mason Andersen finished second at 9-under 134, while Stewart Hagestad, the low amateur at this year’s Masters, birdied the final hole on his home course to qualify at 8-under 135. Pepperdine University golfer Sahith Theegala shot an afternoon 65 to take the fourth spot at 7-under 136. And Cameron Champ drained a 40-footer on the first playoff hole to claim the last spot in a playoff against fellow amateur Brandon Wu.
Alex Smalley, a Duke University team member who was the stroke-play medalist at the 2016 U.S. Amateur, shot 7-under 137 to earn co-medalist honors at at Hawks Ridge Golf Club in Ball Ground, Ga. And University of Texas standout Scottie Scheffler, an early leader at last year’s U.S. Open at Oakmont, qualified for the second consecutive year, surviving a 4-for-3 playoff with a birdie on the fourth extra hole Tuesday morning at The Lakes Golf & Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.
Three junior golfers will be among the amateurs in the field at Erin Hills. In addition to Andersen, teenager Walker Lee, who is headed to Texas A&M, advanced out of the Dallas sectional, posting a 10-under 132 total at Lakewood Country Club. And at the Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla., Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, the 18-year-old sensation who is the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, birdied his final hole to to force a 3-for-2 playoff before advancing to Erin Hills with a par on the second extra hole.
All of these players will join British Amateur champion Scott Gregory, U.S. Amateur runner-up Brad Dalke and 2016 McCormack Medal winner Maverick McNealy in the U.S. Open field. Jerry Pate, the 1974 U.S. Amateur champion and 1976 U.S. Open champion, will be the guest speaker at the amateur dinner.