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Garcia among qualifiers for U.S. Open

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COLMBUS, Ohio – Sergio Garcia’s long streak of appearances in majors looks set to continue after surviving a seven-man playoff in Monday’s qualifying for the U.S. Open while Vijay Singh’s even longer streak ended.

Garcia, who has fallen to No. 75 in the world, said only last month that he wouldn’t go through qualifying, but he changed his mind and had rounds of 68-67 at Tunica National in Memphis, Tennessee, claiming one of the four spots shared between the seven men in the playoff.

His appearance at Congressional this month for the U.S. Open will extend his streak in the majors to 47 straight. This was the first time since turning pro in 1999 that Garcia had to qualify.

Singh also changed his mind about qualifying, and elected not to take part. His run of 67 consecutive majors – dating to the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont – is over.

His only other chance of getting into the major was via a top finish in the St. Jude Classic this week, but the PGA Tour website said he was no longer in that field.

Those were the two biggest developments on a day of big hopes, with 11 sectional qualifiers in 10 states. No other major fills half its field with anyone willing to give it a try. Among those who got into the U.S. Open, which starts June 16, were:

Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, who made it through a playoff and is going to the U.S. Open for the first time. His grandfather won in 1960, and Palmer tied for fifth in 1964 when the Open first went to Congressional.

Steve Irwin, the son of three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin, was among four qualifiers in California.

Fred Funk, who will be 55 on Tuesday of the U.S. Open.

Just as noteworthy were some of the players who failed to qualify. The list included a trio of U.S. Open champions – Steve Jones, Lee Janzen and Tom Kite – and a trio of British Open champions: Justin Leonard, David Duval and Ben Curtis.

“It’s entirely worth it,” Duval said. “You can’t win the golf tournament if you’re not in it. So I guess I’m not going to win it this year.”

College freshman Patrick Cantlay was among the 16 qualifiers in Columbus, which offered the most spots because it had the biggest field that was filled mostly with PGA Tour players. Cantlay, who wrapped up a sensational first season that earned him the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top college player, had rounds of 65-70.

Brandt Jobe, a runner-up by one shot at the Memorial on Sunday, joined Chez Reavie as co-medalists in Columbus.

Others who qualified in Columbus were Robert Garrigus, Marc Turnesa, John Senden, D.A. Points, Marc Leishman, Kevin Chappell, Adam Long, Justin Hicks, Nick O’Hern and Chris Wilson. Tim Petrovic, Scott Hend and Webb Simpson were part of a six-man playoff for three spots. Among those who got bumped out of the playoff were former Ryder Cup players J.J. Henry and Brett Wetterich.

Gary Woodland called officials to withdraw. He moved up to No. 41 in the world ranking after his sixth-place finish at the Memorial, and is sure to stay in the top 50 next week to get into the U.S. Open.

Others who failed to earn spots out of Columbus were Rocco Mediate, Sean O’Hair and Bob Hope winner Jhonattan Vegas.

Several other Tour players were in Memphis, where amateur Bill Cauley shared medalist honors with Sunghoon Kang, a tour rookie from South Korea.

Chad Campbell appeared to be safe until a bogey on the final hole dropped him into a seven-man playoff for four spots. He still won a spot, however, along with Brian Gay, Briny Baird and Garcia.

Among those who didn’t qualify in Memphis were former PGA champion Rich Beem, Stephen Ames, Chris DiMarco and Boo Weekley, who withdrew after his first 18 holes.

This was the second time in three years that Funk has qualified. Among the other nine players who qualified in Rockville, Maryland were Ty Tryon, three-time Tour winner Kirk Triplett and former U.S. Amateur champion Bubba Dickerson.

S.Y. Noh of South Korea, a rising star on the Asian Tour, earned one of two spots from Springfield, Ohio.