Scott barely squeaks into U.S. Open field
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, Tenn.
“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 medalist honors with Sungjae Im of South Korea.
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. “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.
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 medalist was Sam Burns, who didn’t have much stress after opening with a 62.