Brookside Golf & Country Club / Scioto Country Club
(120 players for 16 spots)
Scioto Country Club, which will host the 2016 U.S. Senior Open, is the Donald Ross course where 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus honed his skills as a junior under the tutelage of renowned teacher Jack Grout. It also was where Bob Jones captured the 1926 U.S. Open. Nicklaus has since done some renovations to the classic layout.
Brookside Golf & Country Club has held U.S. Open sectional qualifying multiple times in the last decade. The course was designed by Charlie Lorms and opened in 1927.
Major champions in the field: Rich Beem (2002 PGA), Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters), Justin Leonard (1997 British Open), Davis Love III (1997 PGA); Vijay Singh (1998 PGA, 1999 Masters) and Mike Weir (2003 Masters)
Notable PGA Tour winners in field: Stuart Appleby, Woody Austin, Paul Casey, Derek Ernst (2011 APL runner-up), Tim Herron, Charley Hoffman, Charles Howell III (1996 U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up), Carl Pettersson, Rory Sabbatini, Michael Thompson (2007 U.S. Amateur runner-up/2012 U.S. Open runner-up), Bo Van Pelt, Camilo Villegas (1999 U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up).
USGA champions in field: Ricky Barnes (2002 U.S. Amateur), Leonard (1992 U.S. Amateur), Hunter Haas (1999 Amateur Public Links), Brian Harman (2003 U.S. Junior Amateur), Colt Knost (2007 APL and U.S. Amateur); Danny Lee (2008 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2), Justin Leonard (1992 U.S. Amateur), Moore (2002 APL, 2004 APL and U.S. Amateur), Jordan Niebrugge (2013 Amateur Public Links), D.J. Trahan (2000 Amateur Public Links), Kevin Tway (2005 U.S. Junior Amateur).
USA Walker Cup competitors: Erik Compton, Matt Every, Tim Herron, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Hunter Haas, Brian Harman, Tim Herron, Morgan Hoffmann, Colt Knost, Michael Kim (low amateur at 2013 U.S. Open), Justin Leonard, Edward Loar, Bryce Molder, Niebrugge, Kyle Reifers, Michael Putnam, Kyle Stanley, Nicholas Thompson, Justin Thomas, D.J. Trahan, Cameron Tringale, Todd White, Michael Weaver (2012 U.S. Amateur runner-up)
Other storylines: professional and former Ohio State standout Kevin Hall (been deaf since age of 2 following a bout with meningitis); professional Manuel Villegas (brother of Camilo who also is in the field); professional Luke Guthrie (former University of Illinois standout survived 11-for-7 playoff at this sectional site in 2013 to earn spot in Open); and amateur Bill Williamson (runner-up at 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur).
Thomas Comes Full Circle in Columbus Qualifier
By Dave Shedloski | Photo: USGA/Fred Vuich
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Redemption was sweet for Justin Thomas. Also rewarding – he earned a spot in the U.S. Open.
On the same course where he bogeyed the final two holes last year to miss out by a stroke, Thomas fired a steady 2-under-par 70 at Brookside Golf & Country Club to join 1997 British Open winner Justin Leonard and Seung Yul Noh of Korea as medalists in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Brookside and Scioto Country Club. The trio completed 36 holes in 5-under 137 to lead 16 qualifiers into next week’s 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
“Things go through your mind … to make it through on the same green where I threw it away last year, it feels really good,” said Thomas, who tied for the day’s low score at tough Scioto, a 3-under 67, before closing the deal at Brookside. Thomas earned not only his first U.S. Open berth, but also his first start in a major championship.
Thomas, 21, of Goshen, Ky., is a rookie on the Web.com Tour after leading Alabama to the 2013 NCAA Division I championship and then helping the USA Walker Cup Team to victory at the National Golf Links of America.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet, but this is a big deal,” Thomas said with a tired grin. “A lot of hard work has paid off.”
Leonard, of Dallas, rallied from 3 over par through 10 holes in the morning at Scioto CC to qualify for his first U.S. Open since 2010. He birdied four of his last seven holes for a 69 and then added 68 at Brookside. Noh, 23, of Korea, who won the Zurich Classic on the PGA Tour earlier this year, aced the par-3 fourth hole at Scioto with a 5-iron from 192 yards on the way to a 69 that fueled his 5-under 137.
“I think I was still in a fog from yesterday,” said Leonard, who shot a final-round 78 at the Memorial Tournament to fall into a tie for 57th. “I finally broke out of it. It is nice because it’s been three or four years since I’ve been in the U.S. Open. I get to punch my ticket for the Open Championship each year, but it will be fun playing in Pinehurst; it’s one of my favorites.”
Leonard, 41, finished in the top 25 in both previous U.S. Opens at Pinehurst No. 2, in 1999 and 2005.
Two-time PGA Tour winner Rod Pampling of Australia posted the day’s low round, a 7-under 65 at Brookside, to counter an earlier 73 and end up tied for fourth place at 4-under 138.
“It’s one of those rounds that’s been hanging there for a long time,” Pampling said. “I’ve been playing well, but either putting well and not hitting it great or putting awesome and not hitting it well. Today it all came together.”
Also finishing at 138 were PGA Tour players Kevin Tway, the 2005 U.S. Junior champion, Bo Van Pelt, Mark Wilson, Paul Casey, and Luke Guthrie, who last year survived an 11-for-7 playoff to earn his first U.S. Open berth. Casey, who qualified last year in Surrey, England, led for much of the day but played the last two holes at Scioto in 3 over. He led after 36 holes in the Memorial Tournament before finishing tied for 13th.
“I’ve been playing pretty well as of late,” Casey said. “It was nice to be in the mix at Memorial and carry some momentum into this 36-hole qualifier. It’s a mental test as much as it is physical and very pleased I am heading to Pinehurst for the U.S. Open.”
As usual, there was drama in deciding the final berths.
Ken Duke, Ryan Blaum and Erik Compton, all from Florida, earned the final three spots via a five-man playoff. After tying at 2-under 140, Blaum and Duke birdied the first extra hole, the par-4 first hole, with putts of 30 feet and 2 feet, respectively. Compton was the last man in after he converted a 5-foot par putt on the second playoff hole, the par-4 ninth.
“It was a long day for me, but I managed to fight through it,” said Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient who qualified for his second U.S. Open. He birdied his penultimate hole to reach 2 under after he began his first round 3 over par after two holes at Scioto, the site of the 2016 U.S. Senior Open.
Duke enjoyed a bit of redemption himself. He lost a 3-for-2 playoff to miss out on the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. “I wanted this one,” said the journeyman from Palm City, Fla.
Cameron Tringale, a member of the 2009 USA Walker Cup Team, is the first alternate after outlasting Michael Putnam on the fourth playoff hole. Tringale and Putnam both birdied the third in the gloaming and then Tringale’s par in near darkness decided a coveted alternate position because of the strength of the 120-player qualifying field.
The heartbreak story of the day was Danny Lee, bidding to return to Pinehurst, where he won the 2008 U.S. Amateur. After a 4-under 68 at Brookside, Lee was tied for the lead at one point during his second round. But it all unraveled on the inward nine at Scioto, where he went six over par in a five-hole stretch and ended up with 75-143, three strokes out of the playoff.
Putnam also had reason to be disappointed by his Scioto finish. A double bogey, bogey finish dropped him into the playoff, and he ended up as the second alternate.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on usopen.com and usga.org.