US Open Draws Various Entries
'Of all the golf tournaments you play, the USGA does it better than anybody,' he said. 'Son, they treat you like you've never seen in your life, they treat you like you wouldn't even believe.'
Two years after missing the cut at Olympia Fields, Brisson is on the cusp of making it back to the Open - he secured one of eight spots from the local qualifier earlier this week at River Landing, his home course about 30 miles north of Wilmington.
Brisson is one of more than 9,000 golfers who signed up for this year's tournament, which will be held at Pinehurst Country Club's famed No. 2 course.
The record number of entrants playing in local qualifiers at 107 sites around the country includes former baseball slugger Mark McGwire, former tennis great Ivan Lendl and NHL star Brett Hull, as well as teen sensation Michelle Wie and two other women. Wie was scheduled to play in a first-round qualifier Friday in Honolulu.
It's what makes the U.S. Open, well, open - just like the movie 'Tin Cup' and fictional driving range pro Roy McAvoy.
'It's neat that if you're good enough, if you can shoot the scores, you can get in the tournament,' said former PGA Tour player and current North Carolina golf coach John Inman, another hopeful at River Landing. 'Now, you've got to shoot low scores, because there's a lot of great players out there, but everybody has a chance.'
Not quite everybody. Eligibility is limited to amateurs with a handicap of less than 1.5 and professionals such as Brisson. Anyone meeting that criteria can pay an entry fee of $125 and sign up for local qualifying. Those who make it out of qualifying move on to 36-hole sectionals in late May and early June.
Of course, this doesn't apply to current tour players. Most are at least exempt from the local level, and several - including Tiger Woods and the rest of the 'Big Five' - don't have to qualify at all.
Still, once you get in, everybody essentially has the same chance. In 1996, Steve Jones came through both rounds of qualifying to win the Open at Oakland Hills, holding off Tom Lehman and Davis Love III by a single shot to follow in the footsteps of Jerry Pate, another qualifier who won the Open 20 years earlier.
Perhaps that's what draws so many wannabes.
Last week, struggling pro Ryan Gioffre told his wife that he was going to quit, disheartened after he missed the cut in 13 of 15 starts last year on the Nationwide Tour. So far this year, he has earned $4,050 in three tournaments on the Tarheel Tour, a mini-tour based near Charlotte, N.C.
Yet he rebounded with a 7-under 65 at River Landing to earn a spot in the next stage, encouraging him to stick with it for a little bit longer.
'I cannot stand to be on the Tarheel Tour anymore,' Gioffre said. 'I cannot stand to be minor league. I hate it. I'd rather go get a job and play golf to enjoy it, because my expectations are a lot higher. And sometimes that's good, and sometimes that's bad.'
Besides, the 30-year-old is ready to start a family.
'We just got a puppy three months ago, and we're having a hard enough time taking care of that thing,' he said with a smile.
Life hasn't been much easier for Australian Nick Flanagan, the surprising winner of the U.S. Amateur two years ago. The former soccer player didn't take up the game regularly until watching Tiger Woods' convincing victory in the 1997 Masters, then traveled to Oakmont Country Club in 2003 and beat Casey Wittenburg, the top amateur in the country at the time.
Flanagan turned pro last summer after missing the cut at the U.S. Open - one of many players who struggled at difficult Shinnecock Hills - and his poor play continued the rest of the year. So far, he's had more success in 2005, and he secured a spot in the British Open through qualifying back home.
The solid play continued at River Landing, where he took medalist honors with a 64.
'I think you just play more as a pro, and it wasn't the best of starts for me,' the 20-year-old said. 'But so far, this year has changed me around a little bit, I'm playing better. So, hopefully, it gets easier from here on in.'
It won't be easy for anyone to qualify, including Wie. Now in the 10th grade at Punahou School in Honolulu, she already has played 20 times on the LPGA Tour, twice on the PGA Tour and once each on the Nationwide and Canadian tours.
The 15-year-old has shown she can play just fine with the women. In three LPGA tournaments this year, including a major, Wie has tied for second, tied for 12th and tied for 14th two weeks ago at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. If she was a pro, she would have enough money to be 10th on the money list.
And Wie isn't the youngest woman among the hopefuls. That distinction goes to 14-year-old Carmen Bandea from suburban Atlanta.
Lendl wasn't good enough this year, shooting 78 in Palm Harbor, Fla., earlier this week to miss a playoff by six shots. Hull plays Monday near Dallas and McGwire tries Wednesday in Newport Beach, Calif.
They hope to join the rest of the fortunate hopefuls in the next stage, along with a host of tour players. If Brisson makes it all the way to the Open, maybe he can create a moment to top one from his trip to Olympia Fields.
'My wife pulled into the golf course and she about ran over Phil Mickelson,' Brisson said. 'And then she said, 'That's Phil Mickelson.' And I said, 'No kidding, you about took his legs out.''
His eyes sparkled at the memory, while a few feet away, his wife cringed a bit with embarrassment.
'It was amazing,' he said.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Day (68) just one back at Australian Open
Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.
Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)
What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.
Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.
Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.
Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.
Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball
Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.
In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.
"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’
Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.
“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.
“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’
Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.
The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving
Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.
The major championships I'm certainly proud of, but Barbara, the kids and my grandkids are the best things to ever happen to me. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/wkma1Q9LlK— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) November 23, 2017
GC Tiger Tracker:
Mixing Thanksgiving and waiting for a week from today. pic.twitter.com/u9m9WxQNYx— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 23, 2017
Happy thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. #Thankful— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) November 23, 2017
Was reading about Thanksgiving. Originally they ate waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Seems a bit tastier than Turkey!— Frank Nobilo (@FrankNobiloGC) November 23, 2017
Literally food for thought.
Tyrone Van Aswegen:
Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017
Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.