Ryan Sullivan's Preparation Pays off at Woodmont
By Elton Hayes
ROCKVILLE, Md. – When Ryan Sullivan failed to make the cut at last week’s Web.com Mid-Atlantic Championship in Potomac, Md., he decided to stay in the area to prepare at Woodmont Country Club, site of the U.S. Open sectional qualifier.
Those few extra days appeared to have given Sullivan the impetus he needed on Monday, as he became one of eight golfers to earn a berth in the 113th U.S. Open Championship at the sectional qualifier at Woodmont Country Club.
“I hadn’t been hitting the ball too well the day prior and when warming up, but I said I was just going to go out there and see what I can do,” said the Winston-Salem, N.C., native, who finished at 7-under 134, thanks largely to a 61 in the morning.
Sullivan was able to share his elation with a family member.
“I’ve been helping out since last year when he decided he would go to qualifying school,” said Marty Smith, Sullivan’s uncle and caddie. “We work and mesh together extremely well.”
The day began with steady rain and soggy course conditions that forced officials to delay morning tee times for 20 minutes. The clouds dissipated later in the day, and Russell Knox, Randall Hutchinson and Adam Hadwin emerged from the crowded field to share medalist honors at 9-under 132.
Born and raised in Scotland, Knox, 27, said, “I just felt like I was going to play well today. I was able to get a nice feel for both courses. For some reason, they sat well with me and I just played really well.”
Hutchinson, of Traverse City, Mich., played his best golf of the year. After struggling for the first half of the year, he said it just felt good to finally string together 36 holes of solid, consistent play.
“I haven’t had the best year on the Web.com Tour as I’ve kind of struggled. But I’ve been close and that’s what I’ve been telling everyone,” said the 27-year-old. “Today just proves it – I finally put a couple of good rounds together. It feels good to finish tied for first place, but at the same time, as long as you qualify is all that really matters.”
PGA Tour player Matt Bettencourt secured his fourth trip to the U.S. Open by advancing from a three-for-one playoff against Harold Varner III and Sam Saunders, who secured the first and second alternate positions, respectively.
“I was very blessed to just get the opportunity to be in a playoff,” said Bettencourt, a South Carolina resident. “It felt as if I had nine lives and was finally able to capitalize on one of them.”