Walton Heath Golf Club
Surrey, England • qualifying: May 29, 2017
For the 13th consecutive year, the Old and New courses at Walton Heath Golf Club in suburban London will serve as one of two international sectional qualifying sites. In 2005, the inaugural year of overseas qualifying, Michael Campbell emerged from the Walton Heath sectional and claimed the championship by two strokes over Tiger Woods.
Headlining the field is three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, of the Republic of Ireland. Harrington, 45, won consecutive Open Championships in 2007 and 2008, and the PGA Championship in 2008. He also competed in three Walker Cups for Great Britain and Ireland.
Three USGA champions are also expected to compete: reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion Min Woo Lee, of Australia, 2005 U.S. Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari, of Italy, and 2006 U.S. Amateur champion Richie Ramsay, of Scotland. Molinari's younger brother, Francesco, became exempt on May 22 by being among the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Other notables in the field include 2010 U.S. Open runner-up Gregory Havret, 2016 U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist David Boote, 2015 Walker Cup standout Paul Dunne and past European Ryder Cup competitor Jamie Donaldson.
Past winners of the Amateur Championship conducted by The R&A include Matteo Manassero, Romain Langasque, Mikko Llonen and Graeme Storm.
Englishman Aaron Rai carried his magnificent recent form to Walton Heath Golf Club to earn medalist honors in U.S. Open sectional qualifying and secure his major championship debut at Erin Hills next month.
The Wolverhampton native, who has won two events on the European Challenge Tour this season, made an incredible late run, with five birdies and an eagle in his final nine holes of the 36-hole qualifier to card a second-round, 8-under 64 and come in at 14-under 130.
Li Haotong of China, meanwhile, will also make his U.S. Open debut at Erin Hills after he matched Rai’s 64 in Round 2 to place second with a 13-under total.
Frenchman Alexander Levy will return to the U.S. Open after he finished in a share of third place at 12-under par alongside 2006 U.S. Amateur champion Richie Ramsay. Levy tied for 27th in 2015 at Chambers Bay, his only U.S. Open start, while Ramsay will play the U.S. Open for the first time in 10 years and the first time as a professional..
Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who was a fan favorite in his U.S. Open debut at Oakmont Country Club last year, delighted the crowds at Walton Heath, making a hole-in-one on the second hole of the New Course during his morning round, and then recording a pair of eagles during Round 2 to earn his spot with one stroke to spare at 10-under 134.
The others to qualify in regulation were South Africans Oliver Bekker, George Coetzee and Brandon Stone, Frenchman Joёl Stalter, Englishman Eddie Pepperell and Welshman Bradley Dredge.
A 7-for-4 playoff was required to determine the final spots as darkness fell. Ireland’s Paul Dunne, a member of the 2015 GB&I Walker Cup Team, and South Africa’s Thomas Aiken were the first to make it through on the second hole of the playoff, before Matt Wallace of England and Australian Wade Ormsby joined them one hole later. Gregory Bourdy, of France, earned the first alternate spot, while Callum Shinkwin, of England, secured second-alternate status.
Amateur David Boote, of Wales, looked poised to earn a spot in his first U.S. Open. The former Stanford University standout and 2016 U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist matched the lowest round posted by an amateur in a sectional qualifier since at least 1965, firing a 10-under 62 in Round 1 that included a hole-in-one. But he stumbled in the afternoon, as bogeys on holes 15 and 18 dropped him into the playoff, where he would fall short.
Other notables to who missed out on qualifying for the U.S. Open were three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, 2009 PGA champion Y.E. Yang, 2010 U.S. Open runner-up Grégory Havret and reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion Min Woo Lee.