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Sterne's withdrawal from Open frees up extra spot

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South Africa’s Richard Sterne withdrew Monday from the U.S. Open, increasing the total number of spots available through sectional qualifying on “Golf’s Longest Day” from 56 to 57.

No official reason was given for the withdrawal. Sterne, who tied for 25th earlier this season at the Masters, missed the cut in his only U.S. Open appearance in 2008 at Torrey Pines. Currently 54th in the world, the South African was exempt into the season’s second major by virtue of being inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking as of May 27.

To compensate for Sterne’s withdrawal, an extra qualifying spot was assigned Monday to the sectional site in Purchase, N.Y. While 79 players began the morning at Old Oaks Country Club and Century Country Club assuming three berths were available, four players now will be able to book a trip to the U.S. Open, held June 13-16 in Ardmore, Pa.

After 18 holes in Purchase, Massachusetts native Geoff Sisk leads the field, following a 3-under 68 at Century. Among the players still in contention for one of the four coveted spots is 8-time PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon, who sits in a tie for ninth at the halfway point after firing an even-par 71 in the morning session.