Hoffman has horrible Sunday, great Monday to qualify for U.S. Open

WESTERVILLE, Ohio — Charley Hoffman played so badly on the last day at the Memorial that he thought about skipping the U.S. Open qualifier. He changed his mind and now is headed to Merion.

Hoffman, whose 81 was the worst score in the final round at the Memorial, opened with a 7-under 65 at The Lakes and followed with a 68 at Brookside to lead a group of 15 players who qualified for the U.S. Open. The Columbus-area qualifier was filled with several PGA Tour players who had been at Muirfield Village.

"Frankly, I wasn't sure I was going to play in the qualifier," Hoffman said. "I didn't know if I would show up. I had been out six of the last seven weeks. That bad round got me motivated, and Sunday night I decided I didn't want to let that linger."

Josh Teater, Robert Karlsson and Luke Guthrie qualified for the British Open in a 36-hole qualifier two weeks ago, and earned spots in the U.S. Open.

Teater was in the group that tied for second, while Guthrie got the last spot in an 11-for-7 playoff.

Others who qualified from Columbus — David Hearn, Nicholas Thompson, Brendan Steele, David Lingmerth and Brandt Jobe. Along with Guthrie, the other playoff survivors were Ted Potter Jr., Aaron Baddeley, Rory Sabbatini, Justin Hicks, Sang-moon Bae and Doug LaBelle II.

Sabbatini, who will be making his 11th trip to the U.S. Open, got in with a birdie on the second playoff hole, just before darkness fell. Two alternates were still to be decided.

"It's very grueling. I'm tired, I'm beat, I'm ready to sit down and do nothing," he said, adding that now he has to figure out a flight plan to get to Memphis for this week's tour event. "I got 4 hours of sleep last night. I had to wait for my clubs to arrive after they were lost. I got them in time, though."

The final stage of U.S. Open qualifying stretched one end of the country to the other on Monday with 11 sites hosting 36-hole qualifiers. The two largest were built around the PGA Tour — Columbus with 15 spots and Memphis, Tenn., with nine spots, ahead of the St. Jude Classic this week.

Two sites had to return Tuesday morning to decide the final spot in a playoff — Ryan Palmer and Zack Fischer in Dallas, and 15-year-old David Snyder and John Nieporte in the Bradenton, Fla., qualifer.

The surprise in Memphis was Kevin Sutherland. He is recovering from a neck injury that kept him out much of last season, has made only one cut this year and hasn't competed on Sunday. He had his older brother, former tour player David Sutherland, caddie for him and produced rounds of 66-67 to qualify for his first U.S. Open since 2009 at Bethpage Black.

The heroics belonged to Scott Langley, a PGA Tour rookie who nailed down a spot on the strength of a hole-in-one in his second round. Also advancing at Colonial Country Club outside Memphis were Shawn Stefani, Jerry Kelly, Morgan Hoffmann, Joe Ogilvie, Alistair Presnell, Andrew Svoboda and mini-tour player Brandon Crick. Scott Stallings, who tied for fourth in the Memorial and then flew down to Tennessee, was the odd man out in a 3-for-2 playoff.

The day was not without a bizarre disqualification.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen was in the Rockville, Md., qualifier, but only for one round. After opening with a 75, it was discovered he was wearing steel spikes, typical on the PGA Tour but not allowed at Woodmont Country Club.

All players were notified about the ban on spikes in a letter dated May 20 — it was the second item, right above a notification that shorts were allowed. The only two sectional sites that allow steel spikes are the two PGA Tour locations in Ohio and Memphis. The U.S. Open championship, which starts June 13, also allows metal spikes.

In other qualifiers:

— In Ball Ground, Ga., Michael Kim atoned for Cal's failure to win the NCAA title by earning a spot in the U.S. Open.

Kim might have had the longest trip to get to Merion next week for the second major championship. Cal ended its dream season by losing in the NCAA semifinals on Saturday. Kim was in Ohio on Sunday to receive the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top Division I player — presented by Nicklaus himself — and then he returned to Georgia for qualifying. He had rounds of 67-66 at Hawk's Ridge in Ball Ground, Ga. to tie for medalist honors and earn one of three spots.

— In Springfield, Ohio, Brian Stuard earned one of two spots with rounds of 65-64 to win medalist honors by six shots. It will be his first major championship.

— In New York, 18-year-old Gavin Hall birdied his last four holes to get into his first U.S. Open. He shared medalist honors with Jesse Smith in getting one of four spots. The fourth and final spot went to Jim Herman, who has Richard Sterne to thank for that. Sterne, eligible through his world ranking, withdrew from the U.S. Open, so the USGA awarded an extra spot to the New York qualifier.

— In Rockville, Md., the qualifiers included Russell Knox of Scotland, Mathew Goggin of Australia and Adam Hadwin of Canada. It did not include Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, who bogeyed his last hole. Golf Channel reported that he missed a tap-in early in this round, and Saunders wound up losing out on the last spot in a playoff. That went to Matt Bettencourt.

— In Dallas, 19-year-old Jordan Spieth can add the U.S. Open to his burgeoning schedule. He ran off three late birdies and shared medalist honors with Edward Loar and Matt Weibring. The fourth spot featured a 2-for-1 playoff between PGA Tour winner Palmer and Fischer.

— In Washington state, Wil Collins and Cheng-Tsung Pan earned the two spots. Casey Martin, the golf coach at Oregon, opened with a 77 and tied for 21st.

— In St. Louis, 54-year-old Jay Don Blake was the medalist. Blake wasn't even going to play until he received a letter in the mail earlier this year that he was exempt into the second stage. He figured he might as well give it a try.

— At Newport Beach, Calif., Max Homa made it two Golden Bears in the U.S. Open. He joined fellow amateur Cory McElyea in getting the two spots in a playoff. Among the other five who qualified was Roger Tambellini and Bio Kim. — In Bradenton, Fla., amateur Kevin Phelan was medalist. The qualifier was stopped by rain for about 90 minutes, and the playoff for the final spot was to resume Tuesday.

AP-WF-06-04-13 0327GMT


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