Two local U.S. Open qualifiers were played at Atlanta area courses recently, with golfers with Georgia ties claiming 11 of 16 spots for next month’s sectional qualifying.
Marietta CC hosted the first 2018 U.S. Open qualifier, with six competitors with Georgia ties advancing to sectionals. Leading the way was Web.com Tour member Michael Hebert of Atlanta and Georgia Tech golf team member Andy Ogletree, who shared medalist honors with scores of 3-under 67 with Florida’s Tyson Alexander, son of former Georgia Southern golf coach Buddy Alexander.
Former Web.com player Mark Silvers of Savannah, who is playing on the LatinoAmerica Tour this year along with Alexander, tied for fourth at 68 with Duluth pro Sung An. Six players tied for sixth at 68, with Georgians getting two of the last three spots in a playoff.
Advancing from the playoff was Dacula’s S.M. Lee, one of the top NAIA golfers in the country for Dalton State, and Roswell mini-tour player Shea Sylvester.
Missing the playoff by one shot was UGA golfer Spencer Ralston of Gainesville, pro Blake Palmer of Dawsonville and Athens’ Keith Guest.
Georgia National in McDonough held a local qualifier earlier this week, with St. Simons’ Riley Davenport sharing medalist honors at 6-under 65 with South Carolina’s Tommy Gainey, who scored his lone PGA Tour victory at Sea Island GC in the 2012 RSM Classic.
Former Georgia Tech golfer J.T. Griffin, who is living in the Atlanta area and playing on the Web.com Tour this year, tied for third at 66 with former Georgia State golfer Tyler Gruca of Alpharetta placing fifth at 67. Mini-tour player Deven Broadaway of Adairsville tied for sixth at 68 with Claxton’s Scott Odell, a member of the golf team at Lee U. in Tennessee.
Getting the final spot in a 4-for-1 playoff was Matt Lehman of Bluffton, S.C., a member of the golf team at Furman. The first alternate is Drew Czuchry of Alpharetta, who played his college golf at Georgia Tech. Also shooting 69 but losing in the playoff was Duluth’s Kane Whitehurst, who played college football at South Carolina after being one of the top players on Chattahoochee’s 2010 state high school championship team.
Several other Georgians have qualified outside the state.
Athens’ Kyle Mueller, one of the country’s top college golfers at the U. of Michigan, shot 69 in a qualifier in Michigan to share medalist honors. Duluth’s Benjamin Shipp, who plays at North Carolina State, also tied for first in his qualifier in North Carolina with a 68.
Atlanta’s Keller Harper, a teammate of Odell’s at Furman, shot 66 at a qualifier in Columbia, with former Augusta State golfer Emmanuel Kountakis of Augusta qualifying with a 69. Augusta’s Scott Parel, a member of the Champions Tour, shot 70 and is first alternate.
Former Georgia Tech golfer Troy Matteson, a two-time PGA Tour winner, qualified in Houston with a 67, tying for fourth.
Savannah pro Tommy Schaff qualified in Bluffton, S.C., shooting a 68 to tie for second. Atlanta tour pro Drew Weaver is first alternate after shooting a 70 and losing a playoff.
Thompson Mitchell of St. Simons tied for second with a 72 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to qualify, with Savannah tour player Tim O’Neal finishing as first alternate after a 73
Ten sectional qualifiers will be played June 4, with Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek in Roswell among the 10 sites. Most of the state’s tour pros will play in one of the two qualifiers in Ohio the day after the Memorial Tournament, or in Memphis prior to the PGA Tour stop there. Some of the Web.com Tour members will play in a qualifier outside Washington, D.C.
Eight tour pros with Georgia ties are among 54 players already exempt from U.S. Open qualifying. That group includes 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and former Masters and British Open champion Zach Johnson.
Also exempt are three former Bulldogs (Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner and Russell Henley) and three St. Simons residents (Harman, Matt Kuchar and Trey Mullinax). Luke List will be among the players in the top 60 in the World Golf Rankings at the end of this week who will be exempt from qualifying, with Augusta’s Charles Howell on the bubble at 59 coming into this week’s Byron Nelson Classic.
The 2018 U.S. Open will be played June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills in New York.