Lowry medals at U.S. Open qualifier in England


Shane Lowry successfully carried the momentum from Wentworth to Walton Heath.

One day after finishing second at the BMW PGA Championship, Lowry earned medalist honors at the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier in England. The Irishman carded rounds of 67 and 69 on the Old and New courses at Walton Heath, easily punching his ticket to Pinehurst No. 2 next month.

There were a total of 14 bids up for grabs in England, with one going to American Brooks Koepka, who shot a total of 5-under 139. Koepka has already earned special temporary membership on the PGA Tour for the 2013-14 season and now will be playing in his second U.S. Open, having missed the cut in 2012.

Garth Mulroy, Niclas Fasth and Simon Griffiths all finished at 7 under, one shot off the pace set by Lowry. The group of players that qualified alongside Koepka at 5 under included Marcel Siem, Shiv Kapur, Maximilian Kieffer, Graeme Storm and Chris Doak.

Six players finished at 4-under 140, and a playoff was needed to determine the final four qualifying spots. Oliver Fisher, Lucas Bjerregard and Andrea Pavan made it through with birdies on the first extra hole, while Englishman Tom Lewis birdied the fourth extra hole to claim the final spot over Danny Willett. Morten Orum Madsen, who bogeyed the second playoff hole, will be second alternate.

Among the notables to miss out on qualifying was Padraig Harrington, who shot rounds of 75 and 71 to miss a spot in the playoff by six shots. Harrington's five-year exemption for winning the 2008 Open Championship and PGA Championship ended last year, and he will now miss the U.S. Open for the first time since 1999.

Earlier Monday, a sectional qualifier concluded in Japan with Wen-Chong Liang earning medalist honors at Nara International Golf Club. Liang, who became the first Chinese player to participate in a major championship when he teed it up at the 2007 PGA Championship, carded rounds of 67 and 66 to finish one shot ahead of Toru Taniguchi, Kyoung-Hoon Lee and Kiyoshi Miyazato. Miyazato, whose sister Ai has won nine times on the LPGA Tour and will play in the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst, will be making his first U.S. Open appearance.

The final two qualifying spots in Japan went to David Oh and Azuma Yano, who survived a 4-for-2 playoff over Hideto Tanihara and Kazuhiro Yamashita.