The exact number eluded Scott Harvey. He might have tried unsuccessfully to qualify for the U.S. Open 10 times, or maybe it was an even dozen. It didn’t matter.
At the end of a cloudy, cool day at Canoe Brook Country Club, previous failures had been replaced by present joy, a tie for second in sectional qualifying that made Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, one of five golfers in the site’s 80-man field to advance to Erin Hills.
“How does it feel? Pretty damn cool,” said Harvey, of Greensboro, N.C., who led after a 9-under-par 63 on the North Course in the morning, then sealed a spot with an afternoon 1-over 71 on the South Course. “I’m a 39-year-old amateur, and I’m going to play in the U.S. Open. I don’t even know how to describe it.”
Veteran tour player Daniel Chopra of Sweden was medalist over Canoe Brook’s North and South courses, shooting 66-65–131 (11 under), three strokes ahead of Harvey, amateur Christopher Crawford of Bensalem, Pa., and Andy Pope of Orlando, Fla., who qualified for his third consecutive U.S. Open. The fifth spot went to Matthew Campbell, a 28-year-old from Rome, N.Y., who defeated Mexico native Roberto Diaz of North Myrtle Beach, S.C., with a par on the second playoff hole to earn the fifth qualifying berth.
Diaz is the first alternate. Cameron Wilson of Rowayton, Conn., won a playoff over Mike Miller of Brewster, N.Y. to become second alternate.
For Harvey – a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team and runner-up to Stewart Hagestad in the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur – advancing to Erin Hills was emotional not only because of the many attempts he had made but because playing in a U.S. Open was one of the few things in the game that eluded his father, Bill, one of America’s finest amateurs in the 1960s and 1970s who died at age 82 in 2013.
“I’m going to cry if I start talking about him,” Harvey said after his afternoon round. “If not for him, I wouldn’t be standing right here. I can see his smile right now. He is a very proud dad. Not a day has gone by since he passed that I haven’t thought about him.”
Bill Harvey won hundreds of local and regional tournaments, including the Porter Cup, Dixie Amateur, Rice Planters and Dogwood Invitational. He won the Carolinas Amateur three times, the North Carolina Amateur and the North Carolina Open. Harvey competed in the U.S. Amateur multiple times.
“He was a lifelong amateur, one of the best in the country for sure,” his son said. “I’m just proud to follow in his footsteps.”
One of Scott Harvey’s best days as a golfer came in 2006, when he partnered with his dad, then 76, to win the Sedgefield Country Club member-guest in their hometown. “Me and my dad were really, really, really close,” Scott said. “Half of Greensboro was out there watching. Every hole was lined with people. The whole experience was just so special.”
Chopra’s strong 36 holes means that he will be playing in his third U.S. Open, after having competed at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 and Torrey Pines in 2008. The performance by the two-time PGA Tour winner was more evidence for the 43-year-old who now lives in Orlando that his game is on the rebound from an injury-plagued downturn.
“This is a nice little validation, a nice little bonus for some good work this year and encouragement to keep on going, keep on trying,” said Chopra, who successfully qualified at Canoe Brook 13 years ago. “My goal was kind of to get to 10 under. I figured if I did that, I wouldn’t have to sit around and worry about playoffs or anything like that. It was nice to play the last few holes feeling I was pretty safe. I played beautifully today.”
Like Chopra, Crawford didn’t have to sweat out a taut finish as he had at Canoe Brook in 2016, when he sank 40-foot birdie after an adventurous route on the 18th hole of the North Course in the afternoon to make it into his first U.S. Open on the number.
“Little less dramatic this year,” said Crawford, who will miss his graduation from Drexel University to compete at Erin Hills. “I’m very happy with that.”
A year ago, Campbell’s chronically bad lower-back flared up to such a degree he had to withdraw from U.S. Open qualifying. His back wasn’t 100 percent Monday, but the 28-year-old who played on the men’s golf team at Newberry College didn’t let the pain keep him down.
“It’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” Campbell said. “I hit some really bad shots because of the back, but I hit some really good shots as well.”
Campbell holed a 6-foot par putt on the second playoff hole, then watched Diaz miss from slightly closer. A veteran of “mini-tours and state opens,” Campbell is headed to one of the biggest stages in golf.
“I don’t really know what is going on right now,” said Campbell at the end of his long day. “This is pretty much a dream come true.”
Bill Fields is a Connecticut-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.