Welcome to the “Golf’s Longest Day” — as it is marketed on Golf Channel — where nearly 1,000 players spread across 11 qualifying sites in the country are vying for coveted spots in next week’s U.S. Open at Merion. I’ll be bringing you updates from the 36-hole sectional qualifier in Columbus, which is held at Brookside CC and The Lakes G&CC (the “host” venue).
As longtime readers know, this is one of my favorite events to cover. I love watching PGA Tour pros biting their nails as they gather around the scoreboard at the end of the second round (which will be at The Lakes this year) and nervously watch the calligrapher handwrite the numbers. It’s a tense atmosphere, but the emotion is raw and real. It’s one of the few events left that have the old-school feeling to them, because realtime scoring is either nonexistent or delayed and big electronic leaderboards aren’t plastered around the course.
And, of course, you get feel-good Cinderella stories, like the improbable case of club pro Dennis Miller from last year’s qualifier. On the fourth playoff hole for the last few spots at Scioto, Miller’s 18-foot birdie putt sat on the edge of the cup, but as Miller started walking toward the hole to tap it in, the ball suddenly disappeared in the cup. It was a moment out of a movie! I’ll never forget the excitement that brought.
Every year the qualifier in Columbus looks like a PGA Tour field because it is held the day after the Memorial. This time, there are 120 players competing for 15 spots. Notables include: Sang-Moon Bae, Robert Karlsson, Pat Perez, Robert Karlsson, Charlie Wi, Steve Flesch, Rory Sabbatini, Luke Guthrie, Aaron Baddeley, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Stuart Appleby, Ricky Barnes, Charles Howell, Scott Brown, Ryo Ishikawa, Jimmy Walker, Sean O’Hair, Jeff Overton, Bud Cauley, Kyle Stanley, Gary Woodland, among others.
The leaderboard after the first 18 looks like this:
You can find the scores from Columbus here and go here to check out the leaderboards from around the country.