COLUMBUS, Ohio – Major champions Tom Lehman, Davis Love III and Ben Curtis all made the field on Monday for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, while England’s Justin Rose missed out a day after his win at the Memorial.
Rickie Fowler, who was atop the leaderboard at the Memorial for 48 consecutive holes, had a 73 in the afternoon to miss by six shots.
“Being in contention definitely wears you out quite a bit, and this is my third week in a row playing,” Fowler said. “So I’m looking forward to some time off. It would have been nice to be playing in the Open, but it happens.”
Fowler moved up to No. 32 in the world on Monday, while Rose went to No. 33 with his first PGA Tour victory. The cutoff for getting into the U.S. Open through the world ranking was two weeks ago because the U.S.Golfer’s Association had to determine how many spots would be available through the qualifiers. Rose shot a 140 to miss by three shots.
The 36-hole day of survival at The Lakes and Brookside courses was among 13 qualifiers across the country to fill out the 156-man field at Pebble Beach on June 17.
Most of the spots came from Columbus and Memphis, Tennessee because of so many PGA Tour players.
Former PGA champion Shaun Micheel was among 12 players who qualified in Memphis. The list includes Paul Goydos, who played a practice round with Tiger Woods on the eve of the last U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and predicted he would win by 10 shots. Woods ended up winning by 15.
Scott McCarron and Jarrod Lyle face a playoff Tuesday morning in Memphis for the final spot.
The medalist in Memphis was University of Georgia senior Hudson Swafford with rounds of 67-65. He missed this season with shoulder surgery and was playing his first competitive rounds.
“I was just happy to be playing again,” Swafford said.
Equally remarkable was Erik Compton, a former Walker Cup player who has had two hearts transplant. In the other Ohio qualifier with only three spots available, he earned one through a playoff. The U.S. Open will be his first major.
Brian Davis, who famously called a penalty on himself at Hilton Head in a playoff this year, and Asian teenager Seong Nul-yoh earned the other two spots at Springfield Country Club in Columbus.
Only three spots were available in Houston, and one of them won’t be going to NFL quarterback Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys who withdrew early in the second round after opening with a quadruple bogey, when rain delays pushed the conclusion to Tuesday.
Australians Stuart Appleby and Aaron Baddeley also qualified in Columbus, along with Bo Van Pelt, Puerto Rico winner Derek Lamely and Eric Axley, the medalist with rounds of 64 and 63.
Love, whose streak of 18 consecutive U.S. Open starts ended last year, birdied the final hole with a wedge to 5 feet, then earned his spot in a six-man playoff for the final five spots. The odd man out was Rocco Mediate, famous for losing a 19-hole playoff to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines two years ago. Mediate was eliminated with a bogey on the third extra hole.
“I’m excited to get in,” said Love, a two-time winner at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. “I’ve really been hitting the ball well and, like today, I made four bogeys and missed a bunch of easy birdie putts. It would have been a shame, the way I’m hitting it, not to get in.”
In other qualifiers:
- Ty Tryon was among seven qualifiers from Rockville, Maryland. Tryon made it through Q-school as a 17-year-old and has rarely been heard from since. He is 26 and will be playing in his first major. Others who qualified were Jason Gore and Arjun Atwal of India. Gore, who played in the final group at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2005, was married on the 18th green at Pebble Beach.
- Tom Kite, who won the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, missed by one shot in the Littleton, Colo., qualifier. The two spots went to Stephen Allan of Australia and Jason Preeo.
- U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin missed qualifying in Chicago by two shots. The spots went to Jerry Smith and Bennett Blakeman.
- Jon Curran earned the final spot in Summit, New Jersey, winning a playoff over PGA Tour winner Parker McLachlin. He was among four qualifiers at Canoe Brook Country Club.
- Gary Woodland was among three qualifiers in Hobe Sound, Florida.
- Russell Henley, the nation’s top-ranked amateur, earned one of two spots in Roswell, Georgia.
- The lone spot in St. Louis went to a local amateur, Scott Langley.
- Jason Allred earned one of the three spots from Portland, Oregon.
- Erick Justesen, a part-time caddie at Pebble Beach, led the four players to earn spots in Sacramento.
Lehman, the only player in modern times to play in the final pairing of four consecutive U.S. Opens, was thrilled to return to Pebble Beach. He felt badly for Rose and Fowler, and questioned by such a strong field received only four more spots than the recent qualifier in England for European Tour players.
“You have the Memorial, so you have all the top players are here, from both Europe and the U.S.,” Lehman said. “Justin Rose was here qualifying, Rickie Fowler is qualifying. I just feel to have 15 spots here is a slap in the face. It really is. It’s a real quality field.
“I just feel, if you’re going to err on one side or the other, err on the American soil,” he said. “More here, less there, versus more there and less here. That just doesn’t sit well with me. I think 11 spots over there is way too many.”
Two players not on the PGA Tour were among the 15 qualifiers in Columbus – Alex Martin, an amateur from Ohio, and Hugo Leon, who was the second alternate coming out of his 18-hole qualifier last month.