Springfield Country Club
(63 golfers for 3 spots)
Because of the high demand by players at nearby Columbus, the USGA instituted another sectional site. It is hosting sectional qualifying for the fifth consecutive year and for the sixth time in the last seven years. Established in 1898, Springfield C.C. was designed by Donald Ross.
Notables in the field: Two-time USGA champion Billy Mayfair (1986 Amateur Public Links, 1987 U.S. Amateur), who also competed in the 1987 Walker Cup. Brian Stuard, Tom Gillis and Nathan Green are past U.S. Open competitors.
Other storylines: amateur Jeff Scohy (spent seven years in U.S. Air Force as acquisitions officer rising to the rank of Captain/now in Air Force Reserves/has won three Armed Forces titles); Canadian professional Ryan Yip (qualified for 2013 U.S. Open/2006 U.S. Amateur semifinalist and 2005 U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist); pro Hugo Leon (second player from Chile to play in U.S. Open); pro Vince India (shot 61 at Waterlefe Golf & River Club in Florida for lowest round in local qualifying among 111 sites); amateur Will Grimmer (shot 59 on Pinehurst No. 1 in North & South Junior); Andrew Dorn (won 2013 North & South Amateure at Pinehurst No. 2); and 16-year-old Kenneth Li (led Hinsdale High in suburban Chicago to 2013 3A state title and was runner-up individually).
Grimmer, 17, Among Three to Earn U.S. Open Spots in Springfield
By Rob Oller | Photo: USGA/Matt Sullivan
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Will Grimmer did not think any golf experience could top the 59 he shot last year during the North & South Junior Amateur in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C. But the 17-year-old amateur from Cincinnati thought wrong.
Grimmer carded rounds of 70 and 65 for a 5-under-par 135 to finish second in U.S. Open sectional qualifying at Springfield Country Club, earning one of three spots in the U.S. Open June 12-15 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2.
“That 59 got a lot of attention, but this goes down as a much bigger accomplishment, being able to handle the nerves of trying to get into the U.S. Open,” Grimmer said.
After an even-par 70 in the morning round, Grimmer carded four birdies in the first nine holes of the afternoon round.
Now it is off to Pinehurst, where Grimmer has played nearly every one of the resort’s courses except No. 2. He shot his 59 on Course No. 1, which was also designed by Donald Ross.
“If I could pick one U.S. Open destination, that would be it,” said Grimmer, a high school senior who has verbally committed to Ohio State University for 2015. “It definitely will be an experience that could take me a long way in my career. I hope to learn from a lot of people.”
If Grimmer likes Pinehurst, then Brian Stuard really, really likes Springfield Country Club. The 31-year-old PGA Tour player from Jackson, Mich., pulled off a rare feat by repeating as low qualifier at the same site. USGA records do not show any previous occurrence of a player defending sectional medalist honors.
“I think I’ve got a good game plan here,” said Stuard, who shot 64-65 to finish six strokes clear of Grimmer at 11-under 129. “You’ve got to watch what you’re doing on your approach shots and your putts. You’ve got to be really conservative on your putts.”
Springfield Country Club, which like Pinehurst No. 2 is a Donald Ross design, torments players with greens that tilt especially hard from back to front. Stuard thinks Springfield’s greens might even have more slope than what players will run into at Pinehurst.
That slope nearly wobbled the knees of Chris Thompson, who needed to make a 2-foot putt on the final hole to secure the third qualifying spot. Thompson, 37, of Lawrence, Kan., shot 66-70 to edge Andrew Dorn, of West Chester, Ohio, by one stroke. Dorn was the first alternate, while amateur Daniel Stringfellow, of Roselle, Ill., claimed the second alternate spot after defeating Jared Wolfe, of Louisville, Ky., on the second playoff hole.
Stuard had the luxury of choosing his sectional site – he could have remained in Columbus after missing the cut at the Memorial Tournament and attempted to qualify at Brookside Country Club and Scioto Country Club – but his prior success at Springfield made for an easy decision. His odds of advancing were better at the Columbus qualifier – where 120 players vied for 16 spots, opposed to 63 competing for three in Springfield – but Stuard went with his gut.
“I guess I have a good feel for the place,” he said.
Grimmer, meanwhile, has a good feel for the place he’s about to visit. He doesn’t expect to shoot another 59, but just making it to Pinehurst for the U.S. Open is more than enough.
“Maybe I’ll play a practice round with Jordan Spieth,” he said, chuckling. “He’s only three years older than I am.”
Rob Oller is an Ohio-based freelance writer who has previously covered U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying for the USGA.