With his 18-year major streak in jeopardy, Adam Scott had to keep it alive the hard way.
Scott, the 13-time PGA Tour winner who reached No. 1 in the world four years ago, failed to qualify for the U.S. Open on the merit of his world ranking and had to go through the daunting 36-hole sectional qualifying at Brookside Golf and Country Club and Lakes Golf and Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. The 120-player field featured 14 available tickets to Shinnecock Hills.
Scott fired a bogey-free 6-under 66 in the first round and held on down the stretch to finish at the same number, earning a tie for 10th. He will now make his 68th consecutive major appearance, a streak second only to Sergio Garcia (72) among active players.
The Aussie may have been the highest profile player among the 860 competitors searching for 74 available spots, but he wasn’t the only notable name to make it through. Others qualifying in Columbus included former PGA champion Keegan Bradley, Shane Lowry, four-time PGA Tour winner Brian Gay, Russell Knox, Shubhankar Sharma, Harold Varner, Patrick Rodgers, Ollie Schniederjans and Aaron Baddeley.
In the Tennessee sectional, rising 21-year-old star Sam Burns torched Ridgeway Country Club for an opening 9-under 62 and finished in style atop the leaderboard with a 6-under 66 for 15-under 128. Not far behind him, 51-year-old Steve Stricker shot 10-under 133 to once again qualify for a U.S. Open through sectionals after pulling the trick last year. Last year’s NCAA champion Braden Thornberry also played well to earn a spot.
Many fans will be delighted to hear that the popular Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston will also be on his way to Long Island in two weeks time. He put together two superb rounds at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England, and finished co-medalist with countryman James Morrison. Other qualifiers from that sectional included five-time European Tour victor Thorbjorn Olesen, one day removed from his triumph at the Italian Open.
One of the more fascinating stories of the day unfolded at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla., where two players had a chance to redeem themselves for a mistake that made headlines last month. Luis Gagne and Cristian DiMarco both left their local qualifier early, forcing officials to flip a coin to see which player got into the field. Gagne won the coin flip, but DiMarco, the first alternate, ended up getting a call to be in the sectionals.
Gagne shot 6-under 138 to win and claim his spot. DiMarco looked poised to also qualify – he even had an ace during his first round 4-under 68 – but he made three straight bogeys in his second round, eventually falling into a 6-for-1 playoff for the final spot. He didn’t leave the premises this time, but he did not advance.
The day also proved fruitful to several amateurs who qualified. Canadian mid-amateur Garrett Rank, whose day job is referring NHL games, shot 2-under 142 in the Georgia sectional to advance, former U.S. mid-amateur winner Stewart Hagestad shot 6-under 136 to come through the New Jersey sectional and Ohio State standout Will Grimmer won at Springfield (Ohio) Country Club to reach his second consecutive U.S. Open.
For live scoring of west coast sectionals, visit http://www.usopen.com/qualifying/sectional.html.