5 Things to Know: 2024 U.S. Open Local Qualifying Week 2

By Brian DePasquale, USGA

| Apr 26, 2024 | Liberty Corner, N.J.

5 Things to Know: 2024 U.S. Open Local Qualifying Week 2

This is the second part in a weekly series on the path to the 124th U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2, June 13-16. The two-stage process begins with 18-hole local qualifying, conducted at 109 sites in 44 U.S. states and Canada. Those players who advance will join a group of locally exempt players in final qualifying, which will be conducted over 36 holes at 13 sites between May 20 and June 3.

During the four-week stretch of local qualifying (April 22-May 20), the USGA will preview some of the players and sites that lead to final qualifying, which will be staged in England (May 20), Japan (May 20) and Canada (June 3) as well as at 10 U.S. sites, including one on May 20 and nine on June 3.

The final field for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 was comprised of 82 players who advanced through one or both stages of qualifying.

►What’s in a name? We will find out during the second week of U.S. Open local qualifying. Palmer Jackson, 23, of Murrysville, Pa., was named after 1960 U.S. Open champion Arnold Palmer. Jackson, a graduate student and All-American at the University of Notre Dame, is looking to return to Pinehurst No. 2 where he reached the quarterfinals of the 2019 U.S. Amateur. He is entered in the April 29 qualifier at Morris Park Country Club, in South Bend, Ind. A senior on the University of Houston team, Nick Sutton was destined to play golf after his parents chose to name him Nicklaus Palmer Sutton after 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus and Palmer. His first name connects with the four-time U.S. Open champion, his middle name with Arnold and his last name lines up with Hal Sutton, who made 18 U.S. Open appearances and won the 1980 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst. Although not related to all three golf greats, Sutton, 23, of Bluffton, S.C., has roots in the game. His father, Jason, is a renowned golf instructor who has tutored professional and college players. Nick will try to qualify at Fair Oaks Ranch (Texas) Golf & Country Club on April 29. On that same day at Crestview Country Club, in Wichita, Kan., Palmer Hays, 24, of Fayetteville, Ark., and Nicklaus Mason, 21, of Shawnee, Kan., will attempt to make their names known in qualifying.

►It is a significant achievement to reach the U.S. Open from both stages of qualifying. Four players who previously accomplished the feat will try again this coming week. Chris Naegel, 41, of Wildwood, Mo., achieved the feat twice (2018, 2022). Despite not taking up the game until age 16, Naegel also managed to play all 72 holes in both U.S. Opens, tying for 56th on each occasion. He will be in the field at Westwood Country Club, in St. Louis, on April 29. Andy Zhang became the youngest competitor in U.S. Open history (14 years, 6 months) when he qualified as an alternate for the 2012 championship at The Olympic Club. The 23-year-old from the People’s Republic of China went on to play at the University of Florida where he won the 2018 Southeastern Conference title. Zhang will tee it up on April 30 at Firewheel Golf Park, in Garland, Texas. Jesse Mueller, 41, of Phoenix, Ariz., also advanced to The Olympic Club in 2012 where he tied for 51st. A volunteer assistant at Grand Canyon University, Mueller is in the field at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, in Maricopa, Ariz., on May 2. Jason Semelsberger, 45, of Valencia, Calif., competed in his lone U.S. Open in 1997 as an 18-year-old, the youngest player in the field at Congressional Country Club. Semelsberger, who is scheduled to play at Crystalaire Country Club, in Llano, Calif., on April 30, is the former head coach at The Master’s University, an NAIA golf program.

Retired police officer Ben Hogan has a name that is synonymous with golf greatness, and the Ohio native hopes to play like the legend in U.S. Open qualifying. (USGA/Kathryn Riley)

Retired police officer Ben Hogan has a name that is synonymous with golf greatness, and the Ohio native hopes to play like the legend in U.S. Open qualifying. (USGA/Kathryn Riley)

►There are five players who have unique backgrounds that could place them in the category of different strokes for different folks. Ben Hogan, 42, of Wellington, Ohio, is a retired police officer who was on the force in the San Diego area for 12 years before leaving the profession for medical reasons. Hogan, now a volunteer at his local police department in Ohio, is among 120 entrants at Weymouth Country Club, in Medina, Ohio, on April 30. Hogan qualified for last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur. Shigetoshi Hasegawa was an All-Star reliever for the Anaheim Angels and Seattle Mariners during a nine-year Major League Baseball career. The 55-year-old native of Japan will compete at The Grand Golf Club, in San Diego, on May 2. Derek Smith, 39, of Fayetteville, Ark., is a PGA Tour caddie who works for Denny McCarthy, who tied for seventh in the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club. Smith played at both Wichita State and Texas Tech. Keith Crimp is the oldest player in qualifying at age 74. He co-owns Ellensburg (Wash.) Golf & Country Club in his hometown. Ellensburg is 100 miles southeast of Seattle. Crimp was a high school teacher until 2001 before transitioning his career to golf course superintendent. He also still works in the pro shop two days a week. Happy Gilmore, who is not the hothead hockey-player-turned-golf-movie phenom from the 1996 feature film starring Adam Sandler, is a Bloomington (Ind.) South High School senior who has signed to play at Ball State University in the fall. A three-time all-state selection whose real name is Landon, Gilmore will play at Broadmoor Country Club, in Indianapolis, on May 2.

►Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 6 is located just under four miles from Course No. 2 where the 124th U.S. Open will be contested. Designed by George Fazio and his nephew Tom Fazio, Course No. 6 will host a local qualifier on May 1. It became the fourth Pinehurst Resort course to host a USGA championship with the first two iterations of the U.S. Adaptive Open (2022, 2023). Colin Salema, 18, of Matthews, N.C., is among those entered. He is no stranger to Course No. 6, which was one of the Resort’s courses used when he won the North & South Junior two years ago. Salema, a senior at Providence High School, was the Charlotte Observer’s 2023 Golfer of the Year. Daniel McBrien, 16, of Holly Springs, N.C., has also played Course No. 6 and was the runner-up in last year’s North & South Junior, losing in a playoff. McBrien, a sophomore at Apex Friendship High, won the 2023 Class 4A state championship, defeating Salema on the second playoff hole at Pinehurst No. 8.

►Johnny Miller won the 1973 U.S. Open with a final-round 63 at Oakmont Country Club. He would return to that historic ground in western Pennsylvania to make his final Open appearance 21 years later and would come back to the club twice more as NBC’s lead golf analyst to cover the 2007 and 2016 Opens. His son, Todd Miller, and his grandson, Simon Kwon, will compete in local qualifying at Highland Country Club, in Alpine, Utah, on April 29 as they seek to play in their first U.S. Opens. Todd, 44, of Provo, Utah, is director of golf at Brigham Young University. As a teenager, he was competitive in USGA championships, having reached match play in the 1999 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach and in two U.S. Junior Amateurs (1996, 1997). Kwon, 21, of Salt Lake City, Utah, is a junior on the BYU team after transferring from California-Berkeley. His mother, Casi, is Johnny’s daughter. Kwon won the 2023 Utah State Amateur after losing in the championship match the previous year. Todd’s brother, Andy, will also attempt to go through both stages of qualifying during the first week of May. Andy played in the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.

NOTE: NBCUniversal’s Golf Channel will provide wall-to-wall coverage on Golf’s Longest Day, Monday, June 3. For more information, follow usopen.com.

Brian DePasquale is the USGA’s senior manager for communications. Email him at bdepasquale@usga.org.