U.S. Open sectional qualifying is one of the most unique events of the year. Major champions tee up alongside high school students and mini-tour dreamers. They’re all vying for spots in the year’s second major. The U.S. Open is the only major that allows so many players to play their way into the field. Approximately half of the players who tee it up at Chambers Bay on June 18 will have earned their way through qualifying.
PGA Tour players earn millions of dollars, but sectional qualifying harkens back to their amateur days. The qualifying tournaments are 36 holes in a single day. There are no gallery ropes and players can wear shorts. No money is earned at qualifying, though, of course, success at the Open can be quite bountiful.
A variety of storylines, and occasionally the eventual champion, emerges from the eight qualifiers. Teenaged amateurs and club pros are usually among the successful players, providing inspiration for dreamers across the country.
And that is why U.S. Open sectional qualifying, though it isn’t televised and can’t be followed with hole-by-hole live scoring, is so popular. It proves that dreams do come true.
Brookside Golf & Country Club & Lakes Golf & Country Club
Columbus, Ohio; 120 players for TBD spots
– Daniel Berger: The PGA Tour rookie is No. 23 in the FedExCup; he lost a playoff to Padraig Harrington at The Honda Classic. Berger tied for 28th at last year’s U.S. Open.
– K.J. Choi: Choi is a vice captain for this year’s Presidents Cup. He has eight PGA Tour wins, including the 2011 PLAYERS.
– Stewart Cink: The 2009 Open Championship winner has competed in 19 U.S. Opens, including a third-place finish in 2001. Cink is a six-time PGA Tour winner.
– Bryson DeChambeau: DeChambeau recently won the NCAA individual championship. He was a member of the United States’ victorious team at the 2014 World Amateur Team Championship.
– Graham DeLaet: The 2013 Presidents Cup team member has slipped to No. 81 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He has had just one top-25 since February.
– Kevin Kisner: He has finished second twice on the PGA Tour this season, losing in playoffs at the RBC Heritage and The Players Championship. He qualified for last year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
– Davis Love III: Love, 51, has played in 23 U.S. Opens, including a T2 in 1996. He has 20 PGA Tour wins, including the 1997 PGA Championship. He served as United States captain for the 2012 Ryder Cup and will captain the 2016 U.S. squad.
– Maverick McNealy: The Stanford sophomore won The Haskins Award and Nicklaus Award as college golf’s player of the year. He won six times this season, including victories at the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional and Pac-12 Championships
– Vijay Singh: Singh, 52, is a three-time major champion. His best U.S. Open finish is T3 at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999.
– Steve Stricker: Stricker, 48, owns 12 PGA Tour victories. He finished fifth in both the 1998 and 1999 U.S. Opens.
– Justin Thomas: The PGA Tour rookie is No. 40 in the FedExCup. He has five top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season.
– Nick Watney: The five-time Tour winner has played in the past eight U.S. Opens.
The Bear’s Club
Jupiter, Fla.; 70 players for TBD spots
– Jon Curran: The PGA Tour rookie has four top-10s this season, including a playoff loss at the Puerto Rico Open. He was high school teammates with Keegan Bradley.
– Chris DiMarco: The 46-year-old is a three-time PGA Tour winner. He has finished second in three major professional championships: the Masters (2005), British Open (2006) and PGA (2004).
– Luke Donald: The former World No. 1 has to qualify for the U.S. Open after falling to No. 64 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He has won five times on the PGA Tour and seven times on the European Tour.
– Sean Jacklin: Sean is the son of 1970 U.S. Open champion Tony Jacklin. He was named after actor Sean Connery, his father’s good friend.
– Brett Wetterich: Wetterich has won once on the PGA Tour and three times on the Web.com Tour. He represented the United States in the 2006 Ryder Cup.
Big Canyon Country Club & Newport Beach Country Club
Newport Beach, Calif.; 112 players for TBD spots
– Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay was a semifinalist in the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay shortly before his freshman season at UCLA, where he was named college golf’s player of the year in June 2011. Cantlay was the low amateur in 2011 U.S. Open (T21). He won on the Web.com Tour in 2013 and earned a PGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season, but has played just six PGA TOUR events since. His last Tour start came in the 2014 OHL Classic at Mayakoba (T76).
– Fred Couples: The former Masters champion is trying to qualify for his hometown U.S. Open. He grew up in Seattle, less than 40 miles from Chambers Bay. His best U.S. Open finish is third in 1991 at Hazeltine National.
– Jason Gore: The former Tour winner and seven-time Web.com Tour winner was a Cinderella story at the 2005 U.S. Open, where he played in the final group.
– Max Homa: The PGA Tour rookie is No. 147 in the FedExCup. He won the 2013 NCAA Championship and played in that year’s U.S. Open. He reached the quarterfinals of the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay.
– Beau Hossler: He starred as a 16-year-old at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, He held the lead during the second round at Olympic Club, eventually finishing T29. Hossler, who plays at Texas, was the 2015 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. He will represent the U.S. at this year’s Palmer Cup.
– Chris Zambri: The former Web.com Tour player is the head coach of the USC men’s golf team, which finished runner-up at the NCAA Championship.
Hawks Ridge Golf Club
Ball Ground, Ga.; 42 players for TBD spots
– Matthew Bettencourt: Bettencourt has played in three U.S. Opens; he finished T9 in 2009 at Bethpage State Park. He has won once on the PGA Tour and twice on the Web.com Tour.
– Stewart Jolly: He was a member of the LSU team that won this year’s NCAA Championship and represented the U.S. at the 2014 Palmer Cup.
– Smylie Kaufman: The Web.com Tour rookie is No. 7 on the money list after winning the United Leasing Championship presented by PTI. He also has two T4 finishes. He qualified for last year’s U.S. Open.
– Lee McCoy: The University of Georgia player was co-medalist at the 2014 U.S. Amateur and finished this season No. 5 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. He will represent the U.S. at this year’s Palmer Cup.
Woodmont Country Club (North Course)
Rockville, Md.; 56 players for TBD spots
– Garrett Barber: The 15-year-old shot 5-under 67 to win his local qualifier. He is a ninth-grader at The Pine School.
– Billy Hurley III: He tied for 48th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has one top-10 in 19 Tour starts this season.
– Michael Thompson: Thompson won the 2013 The Honda Classic on the PGA Tour and was runner-up at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club.
– Steve Wheatcroft: The PGA Tour player was runner-up at this year’s Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He won the 2011 Melwood Prince George’s County Open presented by Under Armour in Maryland, setting the Web.com Tour record for largest margin of victory (12 strokes).
Old Oaks Country Club & Century Country Club
Purchase, N.Y.; 71 golfers for TBD spots
– Lee Janzen: Janzen, 50, won the 1993 and 1998 U.S. Opens, making him one of 18 players with multiple U.S. Open titles. He has not played in the Open since 2008. Janzen, who owns 12 PGA Tour victories, won for the first time on the Champions Tour on Feb. 15.
– Jamie Lovemark: The 2007 NCAA individual champion was the 2010 Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
– Nathan Smith: Smith has competed in four Masters after winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur four times. He also has played on three Walker Cup teams. He recently won the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball with Walker Cup teammate Todd White.
– Johnson Wagner: The three-time PGA Tour winner was runner-up at this year’s Shell Houston Open.
– Mark Watros: Watros served in the U.S. Marine Corps and had several tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Combat Distinguished Device after redirecting a vehicle loaded with explosives, saving many of his fellow Marines.
Springfield Country Club
Springfield, Ohio; 67 players for TBD spots
– Tony Finau: The PGA Tour rookie has nine top-25s, including three top-10s, this season.
– Will Grimmer: Grimmer, 17, of Cincinnati, Ohio, will attempt to advance to the U.S. Open through both local and sectional qualifying for the second consecutive year.
– Jeff Overton: Overton represented the United States at the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Germantown Country Club & Ridgeway Country Club
Memphis, Tenn.; 121 golfers for TBD spots
– Jonathan Byrd: Byrd is a five-time Tour winner, most recently at the 2011 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
– Austin Connelly: Connelly, an incoming freshman at the University of Arkansas, recently finished T73 at the AT&T Byron Nelson (69-66-72). He won this year’s Jones Cup, an amateur event won by the likes of Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas and John Peterson.
– Ben Crane: The five-time Tour winner will defend his title at the FedEx St. Jude in nearby Germantown the same week that he attempts to qualify for the U.S. Open in his native Pacific Northwest. Crane is from Oregon and attended the University of Oregon.
– David Duval: The former world No. 1 and 2001 Open Championship winner tied for second in the 2009 U.S. Open. His last U.S. Open appearance came in 2010 (T70).
– Harris English: English, a two-time Tour winner, advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay.
– Retief Goosen: Goosen is a two-time U.S. Open winner, in 2001 and 2004. He has seven PGA Tour wins and 14 European Tour wins.
– David Toms: Toms is a 13-time PGA Tour winner, including the 2001 PGA Championship. He finished fourth at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club.
Dallas, Texas, 78 players for TBD spots
– Cody Gribble: Gribble, who was teammates with Jordan Spieth on Texas’ 2012 NCAA title team, finished T21 at last year’s U.S. Open.
– Cole Hammer: The 15-year-old from Houston is a high-school freshman. He plans to attend the University of Texas in 2018.
– Patton Kizzire: The Auburn product is the leading money winner on the Web.com Tour. He has yet to win this season, but has six top-10s in 10 starts, including two runners-up.
– Andrew Landry: The Arkansas product is No. 8 on the Web.com Tour money list after winning the Cartagena de Indias at Karibana Championship presented by Prebuild
– Hao Tong Li: Li, 19, was the 2014 PGA Tour China Player of the Year. He was runner-up at the European Tour’s Shenzhen International earlier this year and sixth at the Volvo China Open.
– Rod Pampling: Pampling, 45, recently earned his first Web.com Tour victory at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation. He is a two-time PGA TOUR winner, most recently at the 2006 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
– Scott Verplank: Verplank, 50, won the 1984 U.S. Amateur and has five PGA Tour wins. He will compete in his second U.S. Senior Open this year.
Tumble Creek Club
Cle Elum, Wash.; 50 players for TBD spots
– Casey Martin: Martin is in his ninth year as the head coach at the University of Oregon. His team finished No. 16 in this season’s Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. He most recently qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open. He won once on the Web.com Tour.
– Cheng-Tsung Pan: Pan, of Chinese Taipei, was runner-up at this year’s NCAA Division I Championship. That was his final start for the University of Washington, where he was a two-time first-team All-American. He has played in two U.S. Opens, finishing 45th in 2013.
– Drew Weaver: He won the first event of the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada season, the PC Financial Open. He also won the 2007 British Amateur.