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Wu second at sectional, makes it into U.S. Open

Dylan Wu was 7 under par in qualifying Monday for the U.S. Open. MT file photo

Dylan Wu was hopeful he’d soon have a breakthrough in his golf game.

It came at a most opportune time Monday: the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open.

Wu, a Medford native and a member of the Korn Ferry Tour, advanced to the country’s national championship in 1½ weeks when he placed second in sectional qualifying at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland.

Wu shot 7 under par over two rounds, turning in a 6-under 66 for the morning 18 holes and following up with a 71 in the afternoon.

He trailed only Taylor Pendrith, who was 8 under. Two others, Chris Baker and Christopher Crawford, were at 5 under and grabbed the other two berths. Four players in the field of 71 got through.

The U.S. Open is June 17-20 at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

“This is really cool, for sure,” Wu said as he drove to Greer, South Carolina, site of this week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Korn Ferry. “I’m really excited. I was kind of telling people, even after the first round today, it was my first round where I finally felt like putts dropped for me, like I played a good 18 holes. I feel like I’ve been close all year and some things just haven’t gone my way.”

A putt in particular drove the notion home. He made a 15-footer on the day’s last hole for par and to virtually assure a spot in the U.S. Open.

“I’m more excited just to play well,” said Wu, who is within striking distance of getting his PGA Tour card but will likely have to finish the Korn Ferry season strong. “I haven’t really been playing as well as I know I can, so this is definitely a bonus. It’s a great day.”

Wu has missed the cut in his two most recent Korn Ferry events. He’s 28th on the points list, and the top 25 during the regular season earn PGA Tour cards for next year.

He had made the three previous cuts.

“I feel like I’ve been playing pretty decent,” he said, “and my putting has just kind of held me back. I was not necessarily hitting bad putts, I just wasn’t making them. I was hitting a lot of lips. Finally today, in that first round, I felt like I gained shots putting, so that was really good.”

Wu had made it to sectional qualifying four other times — thrice in college and once while in high school — but never got closer than three or four shots, he said, of advancing.

The U.S. Open will be his second PGA Tour event. He played in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in 2019, missing the cut.

Wu avoided earlier qualifying stages because he’s in the top 500 in the world rankings. He’s 494th this week.

Wu chose the Washington, D.C., area over Atlanta — the two closest qualifying sites to last weekend’s Korn Ferry event in Ralegh, North Carolina.

Rather than play a practice round Sunday, he elected to explore the nation’s capital.

“It’s almost simpler when you don’t know the course,” said Wu. “You don’t know where not to hit it.”

Wu got off to a hot start in the morning session and rode it to the top of the leaderboard through 18 holes.

He had two birdies and an eagle in the first five holes, the lone blemish being a bogey on the third hole, when he topped a 3-wood from the rough.

The eagle-3 on the fifth hole helped him quickly put the bogey in the rear-view mirror.

He stayed at 3 under until making birdies on the 11th, 16th and 17th holes to get to 6 under.

He had a half hour to grab a bite before teeing off again.

“During the break, I didn’t look at any scores,” said Wu. “I kind of knew I was probably near the lead just because I shot 6 under.”

He was aware that scoring in previous years at Woodmont wasn’t particularly low because of small, undulating greens and firm fairways.

“I told myself for the second round to kind of just do what I did the first round, play smart golf,” he said. “The difference between the second round and the first round was just making a few more putts. The greens got a little firmer and faster, and I had a few more downhill putts in the afternoon.”

Wu had two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine and two birdies against one bogey on the back.

“It was just overall a good day,” he said. “I hit a lot of good iron shots, had some good up and downs, just had a lot of control. My bogeys were kind of small bogeys. I hit the ball good, hit a lot of greens and putted well.”

Now he’s eager to play in the PGA Tour’s next major.

“I’m just going to have fun,” he said. “The U.S. Open is the biggest test in golf. Hopefully, it’s not too difficult. You never know. Sometimes the U.S. Open makes golfers look pretty bad. But good golf is good golf. I’m excited to go there.”

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@rosebudmedia.com.