Fred Couples and several other PGA TOUR players werent nearly so fortunate.
Loves streak of 70 consecutive majors ended when he failed to qualify for the Masters, and there were no guarantees he would play in the next major until he followed a 72 at Brookside with a 5-under 66 at the tougher Ohio State Scarlet Course to become one of 23 players at the sectional qualifier to earn a trip to Torrey Pines.
It was one of 13 qualifiers held Monday in the United States, with another one in Europe.
Most of the PGA TOUR players were at the Columbus sectional, having been in town for the Memorial. Love and Couples each played four days at Muirfield Village, then had to get up before the break of dawn.
Its a long week, Love said. That was a long, hard golf course to play and then to do anything on Monday, much less play 36 holes I know the guys that played four rounds over there were battle-tested, but they were also tired.
Couples, who had said this might be the last time he tries to qualify, opened with a 69 at Brookside, but a 72 on the Scarlet kept him out of the playoff by two shots. He didnt sign his scorecard and was disqualified.
With an 11-man playoff for the final seven spots, Chad Campbell and Rocco Mediate were among those who made it through before darkness. Oklahoma State freshman Rickie Fowler was among three players who had to return Tuesday morning for two spots.
Carl Pettersson was the medalist at 131, followed by Bart Bryant at 134. Of those who made it, none was more thrilled than Pat Perez, who said last week he would rather qualify for the U.S. Open than win the Memorial.
It was hard this morning on the first tee after getting up, Perez said. Im absolutely dead. Im not going to do anything until I get to Torrey on Saturday. Im not touching a club until then. But its always worth it to play in a major'especially this one.
Perez grew up around Torrey Pines, worked at the public golf course as a teenager and figures he has played there over 1,000 times.
Others who qualified included Ben Crane, Joe Ogilvie, Nick Watney, Jesper Parnevik and Dean Wilson. Kevin Tway, a former U.S. Junior Amateur champion and son of former PGA champion Bob Tway, also qualified.
Among those who failed to qualify were the father-son tandem of Jay and Bill Haas; Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer; Tom Lehman and Chris DiMarco.
Across town at Springfield Country Club, all six spots went to players who had to first go through 18-hole local qualifying, led by Peter Tomasulo with rounds of 63-65. Daryl Fathauer failed to qualify, while his twin brother, Derek, was among the 23 players who made it at the qualifier featuring PGA TOUR players.
In other sectionals:
' Former PGA champion Rich Beem has never made the cut at the U.S. Open, but he wont stop trying. He was 5 over through eight holes of the second round in Richmond, Texas, before running off five birdies to get one of two spots. Beem shared medalist honors with Charlie Beljan, who reminded Beem how meaningful it is to play in the U.S. Open.
The last hole is a par 5 with water down the right, Beem said. This kid hits driver to about 135 yards and lays up. He was so nervous about hitting in the water.
Another former PGA champion, Steve Elkington, missed by two shots.
' Mark OMeara, who now competes on the 50-and-older Champions Tour, qualified in Lake Forest, Ill., where five players competing in a playoff for the final spot were not likely to finish until Tuesday.
' Jason Bohn, Matt Kuchar and D.J. Trahan qualified at Ansley Golf Club in Roswell, Ga., although Trahan took the third and final spot in a playoff. Ollie Schniederjans, at 14 the youngest of more than 830 players to reach sectional qualifying, shot 72-76 to finish well back. Billy Andrade also failed to qualify.
' Bob Gaus got the lone spot in Augusta, Mo., rallying with a 66 in the final round to win by one shot.
' David Hearn of Canada and Brian Bergstol captured the two spots in Beallsville, Md.
' In Purchase, N.Y., Mike Gilmore got the fourth and final spot in a playoff. Kevin Silva was the medalist, and all four players who qualified began their quest at local qualifying. Brad Faxon, competing for the first time this year after knee surgery, shot 79-77.
' In England, Robert Dinwiddie birdied six of his last eight holes, including an 8-footer on the 18th at Walton Heath, to earn one of seven spots. The medalists were Alastair Forsyth and Ross Fisher. Nearly 20 players withdrew, so the USGA awarded seven spots to European Tour players instead of 10.