Woodmont Country Club (North Course)
(59 golfers for 4 spots)
Woodmont Country Club has consistently been a host site for both U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open sectional qualifying. The club will be hosting the event for the 27th time in the last 28 years. Woodmont, which moved to its current 459-acre site in 1950, features two 18-hole layouts, but only the North Course is being used this year for the qualifier. The North Course was originally designed by Alfred Tull with input from Woodmont member Leopold Freudberg and superintendent Rudy Will. Arthur Hills oversaw an renovation in 1999 that included replacing the 18 greens.
Notables in the field: PGA Tour player Patrick Cantlay (2011 USA Walker Cup/2011 U.S. Amateur runner-up); PGA Tour/Web.com Tour professional Billy Hurley III (2005 USA Walker Cup Team); PGA/Web.com Tour golfer John Mallinger (seeking sixth U.S. Open appearance)
Other storylines in field: Amateur Taylor Funk (son of PGA Tour winner and 2009 U.S. Senior Open champion Fred Funk); professional Jeff Curl (son of PGA Tour winner Rod Curl); recent U.S. Open qualifier Michael Tobiason Jr.; professional Mike Van Sickle (son of Sports Illustrated golf writer Gary Van Sickle/member of winning 2009 Pennsylvania side at USGA Men's State Team Championship); professional James Erkenbeck (stroke-play medalist at 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links); Adam Decker (in ninth season as University of Virginia men's golf coach); professional Jim Roy (looking to play in first U.S. Open since 1989/has played in two); amateur Mark Hill (Media, Pa., resident played minor league baseball after collegiate career at George Mason University/cousin Bob Horner was 1978 National League Rookie of the Year with the Atlanta Braves and an All-Star); Eric Egloff (PGA Tour caddie for Kelly Gibson and John Morse); and Brad Schneider (won David Toms Award given to a college player who has overcome adversity to achieve excellence/returned to game after suffering a football injury, which required nine surgeries and four months in bed).
No Practice Makes Perfect for Woodmont Medalist Collins
By Stuart Hall
ROCKVILLE, Md. – Chad Collins considered the uncertain state of his golf game and decided that the best way to prepare for the June 2 U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Woodmont Country Club was not to practice.
Instead, Collins sought refuge on his farm in Veedersburg, Ind.
"Hunting and fishing are my passions and I was on my tractor all last week putting in food plots [of clover to attract deer],” said Collins, 35, of Cloverdale, Ind. “I didn’t play one time, so to be honest with you, I’m pretty shocked.”
Collins signed for a pair of 69s to shoot 6-under-par 138 on Woodmont’s North Course to earn medalist honors. He led a quartet of qualifiers for next week’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2 in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
While Collins positioned himself squarely atop the leader board, the next three qualifiers – Billy Hurley III, Donald Constable and Nicholas Mason – had to scramble. The trio tied for second in the 59-player field at 3-under 141.
John Mallinger and James Erkenbeck, who tied for fifth at 1-under 143, are the first and second alternate, respectively. They were also the last of the field to break par on the 7,193-yard course.
Hurley, 31, an Annapolis, Md., native who played collegiately at the nearby U.S. Naval Academy, made the most dramatic charge. After shooting a 2-over 74 in the morning round, Hurley, a quantitative economics major at Navy, deduced that a 6-under 66 in the afternoon might earn him a trip to Pinehurst.
Standing next to the par-4 ninth green, Hurley faced an up and down to save par after three outward nine birdies moved him back to red numbers at one under.
“I figured if I made par, I needed to shoot 33. If I made bogey, I needed to shoot 32 on the back nine. That was my mindset,” said Hurley, who bogeyed the ninth, birdied the par-4 11th and gave the stroke back with a bogey at the par-4 12th hole.
“Now I was thinking I had to birdie four of the final six holes,” said Hurley, who gave himself little leeway after pars at the par-3 13th and par-4 14th holes. “Then it was four birdies on the last four holes.”
At the par-5 15th hole, Hurley hit his approach to 2 feet and made birdie. At the par-3 16th, he hit “probably the best hybrid shot of my life” from 217 yards to 4 feet and made a second birdie. At the par-4 17th hole, a 168-yard 8-iron approach set up a 3-foot birdie putt that moved him to three under for the day.
“On the 18th, I asked my caddie, ‘Do I need this?’ and he said, ‘No,’” said Hurley, who was a member of the 2005 USA Walker Cup Team and served five years in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer.
In the end, Hurley’s calculation was slightly off, as his 5-under 67 did the trick.
Constable, 25, of Excelsior, Minn., was not in as dire a position as Hurley. The current Dakotas Tour player believed he just needed to stay patient.
“I have been playing well back home, even won a tournament on Mother’s Day, and I came into today confident,” said Constable, who played collegiately at the University of Texas before transferring to the University of Minnesota.
Three birdies in the opening five holes of Constable’s afternoon moved him to three under, overall. He played the next seven holes at two over to slip back to one under.
“I was driving the ball well and I just needed to make a couple of putts, which I did coming in,” he said of birdies at the 13th and 15th holes.
Mason, 32, of Denver, Colo., was the most consistent of the final three qualifiers. He shot a 3-under 69 in the morning and never fell below that mark in the afternoon.
Despite earning medalist honors, Collins did not envision Monday’s result. About the only thing he felt good about was his prior history at Woodmont. Eight years ago, Collins qualified for his first U.S. Open from the Rockville sectional. He was part of a 3-for-2 playoff.
“The first time I played here was ’05, I believe, and I was paired with Steve Elkington, which I thought was cool because I always liked his swing,” he said. “The next year, I won a playoff to get in.”
Collins was planning to play this week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic and then return to Veedersburg to do some fishing with his dad and do some more plotting.
Now he must plot out a winning game plan for Pinehurst and the 2014 U.S. Open Championship.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has appeared on USGA websites.