Ball Ground, G.A. – Former Georgia Tech All-America golfer Roberto Castro finished third Monday (June 8th, 2015) in the sectional qualifier at Hawks Ridge Golf Club, earning one of three spots available for the 115th U.S. Open Championship, June 18-21 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
The 2007 Tech graduate from Alpharetta, G.A., who played in the Tour Championship just two years ago, gained a berth in the U.S. Open for the third time after firing rounds of 64-68 for a 12-under-par total of 132. Matthew NeSmith, an amateur from North Augusta, S.C., earned medalist honors with rounds of 63-64 for a 17-under-par total of 127, while Lee McCoy, an amateur from Clarksville, Ga., finished second after carding rounds of 65-66 for a 13-under-par total of 131.
Castro, a four-time All-American at Tech who earned his PGA Tour card in 2012, shot 8-under-par 64 in his morning round but wasn’t assured of a spot until his back nine in the afternoon. Having played bogey-free golf the entire day, he birdied the par-3 third and the par-5 fourth holes in succession to get to 11-under-par, then added another at the par-5 seventh to hold off his younger brother, Franco, who is the first alternate after posting an 11-under-par total of 133.
“He had a putt to go to a playoff,” said Roberto Castro, who competed in last year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst and in 2012 at Olympic Club in San Francisco. “A friend of mine said if you play this game long enough, you’ll see everything. That definitely goes to the top of the list. Crazy stuff. I’m happy for him. His game’s come a long way. We played out here yesterday with one of his buddies, and he said, ‘What if that happens?’ Literally. We’ll both probably wind up at Chambers Bay one way or another.
In all, nearly 800 golfers competed in 10 sectional tournaments on Monday. Played over 36 holes in one day, the number of qualifying spots was determined by the quality and quantity of the field at each location.
Three former Tech players are already in the field for the U.S. Open. Matt Kuchar, currently 29th in FedEx Cup points on the PGA Tour with nearly $1.5 million in earnings this year, is exempt along with fellow PGA Tour member Cameron Tringale, who is 40th in FedEx Cup points and has accumulated nearly $1.4 million in earnings this year. They earned their spots by advancing to the 2014 Tour Championship and being ranked in the top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking. Ollie Schniederjans, Tech’s two-time All-American and two-time ACC Player of the Year who graduated in May, received an exemption for winning the 2014 Mark H McCormack medal as the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur.