U.S. Open local qualifiers set to begin Friday

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Friday morning in Jupiter, Fla., Korea's Jin Jeong will strike the first shot of the 2013 U.S. Open – qualifying round, that is.

Billed as golf's most democratic major championship, the local qualifying stage of the U.S. Open begins Friday and will extend through May 16. In total, more than 9,000 players will tee it up at 111 different local sites, with only about 550 participants advancing through to the sectional stage.

Jeong will kick things off promptly at 8 a.m. ET Friday alongside Brandon Meltzer and Nick Latimer at Admirals Cove in South Florida, where notable names among the 78 entrants battling for a handful of spots in the next round include Hank Kuehne and Gary Nicklaus. Those fortunate enough to make it to sectionals will next face a player pool approaching 1,000 entrants, with 70-80 spots likely available for the season's second major, June 13-16 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

Though Friday will mark the first shots of qualification, things will truly get underway in earnest on Monday, May 6 when 26 sites from Florida to Washington hold events – the single busiest day of the local qualification period.

While each player begins with hopes of making it to Merion, many will need to conquer world-class golf courses in order to do so. The list of sites hosting local qualifiers includes major championship venues, both past (Oak Tree National, where Jeff Sluman won the 1988 PGA Championship) and future (Erin Hills, which is slated to host the U.S. Open in 2017). Other notable venues include TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas and Secession Golf Club in Beaufort, S.C., while the final putt of local qualifying will be holed May 16 at Settlers Bay Golf Club in Wasilla, Alaska.