Local Qualifying: Halfway Through, Hope Still Abounds
May 12, 2017 By David Shefter, USGA
Trevor Sluman is looking to earn a spot in his first U.S. Open, 25 years after his uncle, Jeff Sluman, finished as the championship's runner-up. (USGA/Steve Gibbons)

Results from Each Site
 

Number of local qualifiers conducted through May 11: 55

Number of competitors: 4,770

Number of sectional qualifying spots earned: 278

Low Score: 62- Hunter Stewart (5/11), Jackson (Tenn.) Country Club

Number of local qualifiers left: 59

Number of competitors slated to compete in remaining local qualifiers: 4,209

Number of sectional qualifying spots left via local qualifiers: 247

Notable players to advance: David Berganio Jr.- two-time U.S. Amateur Public Links champion; Corey Conners- 2014 U.S. Amateur runner-up; Derek Ernst- PGA Tour winner; Nick Flanagan- 2003 U.S. Amateur champion; Billy Mayfair- 1986 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, 1987 U.S. Amateur champion, five-time PGA Tour winner; Jordan Niebrugge- 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, The Open low amateur- 2015; Davis Riley- two-time U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up

All in the Family
If Trevor Sluman manages to navigate U.S. Open qualifying this spring, he would have taken the Marco Polo route to Erin Hills.

“I love to travel,” said Sluman from Beijing, a couple of days after earning medalist honors in a U.S. Open local qualifier at Mission Hills Resort & Country Club’s El Campeon Course in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.

Logistics played a major role in Sluman’s decision to choose one of the first of 114 local qualifiers. A day after shooting 69 in Central Florida, the 23-year-old flew halfway across the globe to participate in a qualifying school for an upstart tour in China, which will hold its first event on June 5, the day of the 10 sectional qualifiers in the United States.

So Sluman chose the Japan sectional qualifier in Ono City, which will be conducted on May 22.

His uncle, Jeff Sluman, nearly won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 1992, a year before Trevor was born, finishing runner-up to Tom Kite. Trevor said his uncle, who won the 1988 PGA Championship, called and congratulated him on his performance in local qualifying as he was driving back to his residence in Delray Beach, Fla. Although he is a native of Pittsford, N.Y., Trevor, who played golf at the University of Louisville, has spent the last couple of years in Florida serving as an assistant men’s golf coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton. Coincidentally, Jeff took a similar path to PGA Tour stardom by starting his career in Asia.  “Seeing my uncle on TV basically every weekend really heightened the expectations I set for myself,” Sluman said. “Now as a professional, I am very fortunate to have such a solid inner circle of touring pros to bounce ideas off of and make me a better player.”

Tyler McCumber, whose father Mark won 10 times on the PGA Tour, carded a 5-under 67 on May 10 at La Costa Golf Resort in Carlsbad, Calif., to earn medalist honors. Marc Turnesa, the great nephew of two-time U.S. Amateur champion Willie Turnesa, was the co-medalist in the Hollywood, Fla., local qualifier on May 11, shooting a 68 at The Club at Emerald Hills. Meanwhile, Allen Geiberger, Jr., the son of 1966 PGA Championship winner Al Geiberger, shared medalist honors by carding a 4-under 68 on May 11 at Bermuda Dunes (Calif.) Country Club. Tyson Alexander, the son of 1986 U.S. Amateur champion Buddy Alexander, shot 3-under 67 at Farmington C.C. in Charlottesville, Va., to advance. His grandfather, Skip, finished 11th in the 1948 U.S. Open. Tyson qualified for the 2009 U.S. Open, to give the family three generations of U.S. Open competitors.

And Hayden Wood, the son of PGA Tour Champions golfer and 1977 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Willie Wood, shared medalist honors Zachary Olsen by shooting 6-under 66 at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Okla., on May 9.

Hat Trick for Horsfield?
Sam Horsfield navigated qualifying the past two years to qualify for the U.S. Open. By surviving a 4-for-3 playoff at Mission Inn on May 3, the English-born-now-Davenport, Fla., resident has a chance to do just that for a third straight time. Horsfield is scheduled to play his 36-hole sectional at the Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla., on June 5.

As the No. 3 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, the University of Florida sophomore could have bypassed local qualifying. Horsfield, however, announced earlier this year that he is turning professional following the NCAA Championships at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. His exemption through local qualifying can only be used if he remains an amateur. Now, if he does get to Erin Hills, he can play as a professional.

Sam Horsfield is trying to qualify for his third straight U.S. Open. (USGA/Scott A. Miller)

Hammer Time
Cole Hammer was a happy-go-lucky 15-year-old when he qualified for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, playing practice rounds with his idols, including Jordan Spieth, who would go on to win that week. The Houston, Texas, native, now 17, inched closer to a second U.S. Open start by shooting 6-under 66 at River Oaks Country Club in his hometown to grab one of eight available spots. Hammer will partner with 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Philip Barbaree at the upcoming U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, before sectional qualifying on June 5 at Lakewood Country Club in Dallas. 

Entering Golfing Loar
Amid the buzz over former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s qualifying bid at Split Rail Links & Golf Club in Aledo, Texas, 1999 USA Walker Cup competitor Edward Loar, of Rockwall, Texas, carded a 6-under-par 66 to earn medalist honors. The 39-year-old left-hander, who finished tied for 32nd in the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, owns a pair of Web.com Tour victories.

Romo shot 3-over 75 to miss by six strokes.

Father’s Proud Day
Nothing made 55-year-old amateur Greg Condon happier than to see his 26-year-old son, Luke, survive a 5-for-1 playoff. Unfortunately, the playoff was for second-alternate status. The elder Condon survived his own 3-for-2 playoff in the year’s first local qualifier on May 2 at Twin Warriors Golf Course in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M., to garner one of the two available spots. Thus far, Condon, of Monte Vista, Colo., is the oldest player to advance.

 “Honestly, the best part of that whole day was watching Luke win that playoff," Condon said. "He was playing against some very good players. I was so proud of him.”

The elder Condon, who competed in last year’s U.S. Senior Open, shared medalist honors with Tony Mike Jr. and three-time U.S. Senior Open qualifier Jeff Roth, who was the odd man out and is the first alternate.

Walker Cup Reunion?
Five members of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team advanced through local qualifying, including Robby Shelton IV and Lee McCoy going 1-2 on May 10 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Silver Lakes in Glencoe, Ala. Hunter Stewart posted the lowest score thus far at any site with a 10-under 62 to take medalist honors at Jackson (Tenn.) Country Club, while Mequon, Wis., resident Jordan Niebrugge, the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion and low amateur in the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews, carded an even-par 72 at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan Falls, Wis. on May 11 to move closer to playing the U.S. Open in his home state.

Beau Hossler has a chance to qualify for his fourth U.S. Open since 2011, and first as a professional, after surviving a 6-for-5 playoff at River Oaks Country Club on May 11. As a high school senior, he was briefly atop the leader board during the second round of the 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club.

Maverick McNealy already is exempt into the field for winning the 2016 McCormack Medal for being No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, while 2015 U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau and U.S. Mid-Amateur champions Mike McCoy (2013) and Scott Harvey (2014) are exempt into sectional qualifying.

Hawaiian Punch
In 2006, Tadd Fujikawa, 15, of Honolulu, became the second-youngest qualifier in U.S. Open history. The 5-foot-1, 135-pounder didn’t make the cut at Winged Foot Golf Club, but his spirit and spunk delight thousands of fans. Fujikawa turned professional a few years later, but he has yet to make a splash, competing on several different circuits while occasionally qualifying for a PGA Tour event. Now 26, Fujikawa took a big step toward a second U.S. Open appearance when he survived a 5-for-4 playoff at Summer Grove Golf Club in Newnan, Ga., on May 8.

Sweet Erin Hills Return?
Jordan Russell, who reached the semifinals of the 2011 U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills, moved a step closer to playing the course again by advancing through local qualifying at Hot Springs (Ark.) Country Club on May 9. Russell, who shot 69 to earn one of five spots in sectional qualifying, fell to eventual runner-up Patrick Cantlay in 2011.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.