Old Warson Country Club
Qualifying Spots Available: 2
Course Description: Old Warson is hosting sectional qualifying for the fourth time. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the course has been the site for the 1999 U.S. Mid-Amateur, the 2009 U.S. Women's Amateur and the 1971 Ryder Cup.
Players to Watch:
University of Illinois golf coach Mike Small has qualified for the U.S. Open and PGA Championship
Richard "Skip" Berkmeyer has won the Missouri State Amateur three times.
Club professional Don Berry is the brother-in-law of 2003 U.S. Women's Open champion Hilary Lunke. Berry qualified for the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and is a member of the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame.
Alex Cusumano is a junior on the Loyola-Chicago golf team. His father, Frank, is a sportscaster at KDSK in St. Louis and hosts a radio sports talk show.
Blake Makes Easy Work of St. Louis Qualifier
By Bucky Dent
ST. LOUIS – Jay Don Blake’s one-day stop in St. Louis paid off with a spot in next week’s U.S. Open Championship.
Blake earned medalist honors Monday at U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying at Old Warson Country Club on the strength of a second-round 68, which gave him a two-round score of 139 that was three shots clear of the rest of the field.
The 54-year-old Blake, who will be the oldest player in the U.S. Open field, did his work in the second round’s first eight holes. He birdied the first three, then added birdies on five and eight to finish with a 30 on the front nine. It was more than enough to overcome a couple of bogeys on the back nine.
Blake arrived in St. Louis at 11:15 p.m. Sunday night after finishing second in a Champions Tour event in Des Moines, Iowa, and was on the first tee just over nine hours later.
“I hit a couple of bad tee balls on the front nine in the first round and it started to get away from me,” Blake said. “Then I started right off [on the second 18]. I was hitting some good drives and some good shots.”
Blake admitted to getting shaky on his final nine, but with a substantial cushion over the field, giving shots back at Nos. 10 and 17 didn’t really matter.
“Sometimes, you’re just better off not knowing where you are,” he said. “Maybe if I play full bore and still try to make birdies, I don’t have those bogeys. You get a little lackadaisical out there with a four- or five-shot margin.”
Nevertheless, Blake was pleased to earn his 11th U.S. Open spot and his first since 2003. Not only that, the course at Merion, which rewards placement over raw power, may suit his game.
“I’m not one of those guys who can bomb the ball 320 yards off the tee, go into the rough and still reach it with an 8-iron,” he said. “My game might match up well with Merion. It’s more of a position course. For someone like me who hits it 280 or 290, that’s fine.”
Blake’s best finish in a major came in the 1992 U.S. Open, when he tied for sixth at Pebble Beach. Blake won one PGA Tour event, the 1991 Shearson Lehman Brothers Open, and owns three Champions Tour victories.
As a top-10 finisher in the Champions Tour money standings last year, Blake earned an automatic exemption into sectional qualifying. After looking at his schedule, he opted to play in St. Louis, a decision that paid off handsomely.
Joining Blake at Merion is Mackenzie Hughes of Charlotte, N.C., who parred the first hole of a playoff to beat Travis Johns and cap a story that even a Hollywood scriptwriter might reject as implausible.