The U.S. Open at Erin Hills has its homegrown favorite and Steve Stricker got there the hard way.
Having been denied a special exemption to play the U.S. Open in his native Wisconsin, approximately 75 minutes from where he lives, Stricker earned his spot Monday when he led sectional qualifying in Memphis as the national championship field took shape.
Stricker shot 67 at Ridgeway Country Club then tacked on a round of 65 at Germantown Country Club to book his spot at Erin Hills.
“It means a lot,” Stricker said on the USGA website. “Not getting an exemption was a motivational factor. Not that I deserved one, but it’s been driving me to achieve this goal. And I’m just happy that I’m going to get to play. It’s a relief to get to play in the first one in my home state.”
Stricker, 50, has played primarily on the PGA Tour this year and recently tied for seventh in the Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial. With 12 Tour victories and 11 top-25 finishes in 19 U.S. Open starts, Stricker wrote to the USGA earlier this year asking for a special exemption but was denied. The last non-major winner to receive a U.S. Open exemption was then-amateur Aaron Baddeley in 2000.
A total of 72 players earned U.S. Open spots through sectional qualifying Monday. Among the PGA Tour players who played their way in were J.T. Poston, Daniel Chopra, Jason Kokrak, Bud Cauley, Martin Laird, Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Jamie Lovemark, Bryson DeChambeau, David Lingmerth and Harris English.
Among the familiar names who failed to qualify were Luke Donald, Davis Love III, Tony Finau, James Hahn, Scott Brown, Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh.
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