The moment of truth arrives Monday for 801 golfers who will attempt to qualify for the final 63 spots in the U.S. Open during the 36-hole sectional qualifier at 11 sites.
The most Open berths will be available at Columbus, Ohio, where 120 players – many of whom spent the weekend competing at the Memorial Tournament – will be vying for 16 tickets to the Open, beginning June 16 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.
One of the entrants there is West Chester’s Sean O’Hair.
O’Hair, who has participated in four previous U.S. Opens, had his best finish last year at Pebble Beach where he tied for 12th place. However, he got a little unlucky when the U.S. Golf Association reduced the number of exemptions from the previous year’s competition from top 15 to top 10.
So O’Hair will be out there Monday for a long time; he has the final tee time in both the morning and afternoon sessions. He shot a second-round 70 at the Memorial but missed the cut by one stroke. That was his second straight missed cut, and his seventh in 13 events this season.
One of the biggest stories out of Columbus will be the fate of Vijay Singh, who has played in 67 consecutive majors – the longest current streak – dating back to the 1994 British Open. He will have to finish in the top 16 to sustain the streak.
Other players attempting to qualify in Columbus include former major champions David Duval, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ben Curtis and Mike Weir
Another big qualifier will be in Memphis, site of this week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, where 78 players will compete for 10 spots. Two-time Open champion Lee Janzen and Sergio Garcia, riding a streak of 47 straight majors, lead the field there.
Plenty of Philadelphia-area players will be scattered about trying to qualify for the Open.
At Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., Christopher Gold of Haddonfield, Michael Kania of Haverford and Michael Tobiason Jr., of Wilmington will compete. There are 10 Open spots available there.
Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., will have locals Jonathan Rusk of Yardley, Chris Gray of Newark, Del., and Billy Stewart of Devon in the field. Eric Beringer of Delray Beach, Fla., a former Bryn Mawr resident, also will try to become one of the four to advance there.
Marcello Santi of Italy, who was co-medalist at Applebrook Golf Club in Malvern in the first stage of qualifying, will play the sectional qualifier in suburban Atlanta.