Colonial Country Club
(145 golfers for 13 spots)
Colonial Country Club returns as a sectional qualifying site for the third time since 2008. Founded in 1913 by local businessmen and relocated to its current in 1968 with two courses designed by Joe Finger, Colonial was the site of the first round of 59 in PGA Tour history, shot by Al Geiberger in the 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, will be hosting for the third time since 2000. The club also hosted a local U.S. Open qualifier this year.
Major champions in the field: David Duval (2001 British Open), Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA) and David Toms (2001 PGA)
Notable PGA Tour champions in the field: Jonathan Byrd, Chad Campbell (2003 PGA runner-up), Tim Clark, Chris DiMarco (2005 Masters runner-up), Paul Goydos, J.J. Henry, Jerry Kelly, Jeff Maggert, Heath Slocum, Harris English, J.B. Holmes and Tommy Gainey.
USGA champions in field: Jason Allred (1997 U.S. Junior Amateur), Charlie Beljan (2002 U.S. Junior Amateur); Tim Clark (1997 U.S. Amateur Public Links), David Gossett (1999 U.S. Amateur); Scottie Scheffler (2013 U.S. Junior Amateur)
Walker Cup alums in field: Jonathan Byrd, David Duval, Bud Cauley, Harris English, J.B. Holmes, Jeff Overton, Casey Wittenberg.
Other notables: Mark Anderson (individual low scorer at 2009 USGA Men's State Team), Scott Langley (co-low amateur at 2010 U.S. Open), Davis Riley (2013 U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up)
Other storylines: Professional Charlie Holland (son of USGA Executive Committee member Malcolm Holland); amateur John Augenstein (semifinalist at 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur); professional Alex Prugh (brother Corey is in sectionals at Emerald Valley G.C. in Creswell, Ore.); Australian professional Brady Watt (semifinalist at 2013 U.S. Amateur); professional Richard Todd (son of ex-NFL quarterback Richard Todd); St. Louis-area amateur Richard "Skip" Berkmeyer (making his 20th attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open); Kenny Ebalo (Las Vegas resident manages PGA Tour player and three-time USGA champion Ryan Moore); Kent Jones (Albuquerque, N.M., professional has played in six U.S. Opens); amateur Jon Olson (won 2012 Iowa Amateur and led Ankeny Centennial High to state 4A title); and pro Brian Vranesh (Phoenix resident shot 62 in local qualifier at Encanterra Country Club/ self proclaimed "Joe the Plumber" of golf as he has delivered pizzas and waited tables in journey to pro golf).
1999 U.S. Amateur Champion Gossett Earns Place at Pinehurst
By James Dent
CORDOVA, Tenn. – David Gossett jokingly called himself the "54th alternate" for this week's PGA Tour event, the FedEx St. Jude Classic in his hometown of Memphis.
The only list he's on for next week's U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst is the one for competitors.
Ending a 14-year stretch of sitting out his country's premier event, Gossett, the 1999 U.S. Amateur champion, fired two rounds in the 60s Monday at Colonial Country Club, tying four others for third place at 8-under-par 135.
"Hey, at least I got into one tournament this week," he said, laughing.
Hudson Swafford took advantage of superior scoring conditions on the shorter North Course, blistering it for a second-round 64 that gave him a two-round score of 133 and a one-stroke margin over J.B. Holmes for medalist.
One of 13 men to qualify for Pinehurst at the Memphis site, Gossett traveled as rocky a road professionally as anyone to get back inside the ropes at the U.S. Open. Turning pro in 2000 after a brilliant college career at Texas, Gossett won a PGA Tour event in 2001 at the John Deere Classic. His future seemed bright.
And then, it turned as dark as the skies which briefly covered Colonial in a heavy rain shower late Monday afternoon.
"In an attempt to get better, I got worse," Gossett said. "I changed swings, I changed coaches and just got my wires crossed. Inevitably, I lost confidence in what I was doing. My attention got diverted from scoring inside 150 (yards) into swing mechanics.
"It was just a downward spiral ... a lot of mental scar tissue to deal with."
Gossett lost his PGA Tour card in 2004 and has split time between various tours over the last decade. In fact, he hasn't played in a PGA Tour event since 2010.
Last year on the Web.com Tour, Gossett made only $10,703 in 11 events, missing eight of 11 cuts. But the 35-year-old husband and father of three small children isn't quite ready to give up on his dreams.
"I've known tough times, but I'm going to keep teeing it up. Maybe I can get something going next week at the U.S. Open. I've earned my way into a championship."
So did another Memphian, Casey Wittenberg, largely on the strength of a morning 62 on the friendly North Course. Although he soared to a 74 on a South Course playing much longer than its listed 7,334 yards, Wittenberg was home free.
"I just got into the flow this morning," Wittenberg said. "I strung most of my birdies in a row, which was nice. I didn't play quite as good this afternoon – obviously, it's a harder golf course – but all in all, it was fairly clean."
As is often the case in sectional qualifiers, the drama extended until daylight's last shred was exhausted. Brady Watt of Australia, a semifinalist in the 2013 U.S. Amateur who has since turned professional, and amateur Hunter Stewart emerged from a 5-for-2 playoff to claim the last spots out of Memphis for Pinehurst.
Watt waited two hours after completing his second-round 67 on the North, but took care of business on the first playoff hole, birdieing No. 10 on the North. Stewart eliminated 2010 NCAA individual champ Scott Langley with a birdie putt on No. 11.
"It was the kind of putt you practice your whole life when it's dark – a 12-footer with a little left-to-right break to win the Masters," said Stewart, a rising senior at Vanderbilt. "I can't put into words what this means."
Three PGA Tour veterans – Jeff Maggert, Joe Ogilvie and David Toms – and Kevin Kisner matched Gossett at 8-under. Amateur Robby Shelton, Cody Gribble and Jason Millard joined Wittenberg at 7-under.
Langley and amateur Sam Love are the two alternates out of Memphis.