COLUMBUS, Ohio — Stewart Cink doesn’t care that he turned 50 last month. He will do anything to play at the US Open, even if it means playing 36 holes against kids who weren’t even born when he played his first 27 years ago.
Cink received a pep talk from his wife on Monday for staying patient, and he birdied five over six holes at Brookside Golf & Country Club to become one of 11 players to earn qualifier spots from Columbus, Ohio .
“I love playing in major tournaments,” said Cink, a former Open Championship winner. “I’m a one-trick pony, and you can’t be a one-trick pony if you can’t do your trick. I will keep trying to qualify forever.
Cink was among 45 players trying to qualify for the US Open, which will be played June 15-18 at the Los Angeles Country Club. About 45% of the 156 players must qualify.
Columbus was among 10 final qualifying sites (known as Golf’s Longest Day) from California to Canada, from New Jersey to Florida, with some of them requiring sudden death playoffs to see who entered.
Columbus had the most PGA Tour players due to the Memorial Tournament which ended on Sunday. Viktor Hovland is already exempt for the US Open. He still showed up in the 36-hole caddy qualifier for former Oklahoma State roommate Zach Bauchou, who was unsuccessful.
The medalist was Olin Browne Jr., the son of PGA Tour winner Olin Browne, and the connection to qualifying was what makes this long day so enticing.
It was 2005 when the father shot 73 on the first 18 holes and considered retiring because he was so far behind. Browne changed her mind, thinking, “How can you stop something and then tell your kids you can’t stop.”
He shot 59 that day and two weeks later was in the second-to-last group at Pinehurst No. 2. The son remembers that moment well.
“He called me on the phone. I said, ‘How did it go?’ said Olin Browne Jr. “He was like, ‘Oh, I shot 69.’ And I was like, ‘Sorry, you missed.’ He said, ‘No, no. I shot 59.’ I misunderstood it. It’s a living memory. I remember yelling at him in the car on the way home.
And now it’s the son’s turn, and the father couldn’t be prouder.
“It’s gratifying that he was able to do something that made him feel like all the hard work was worth it,” the father said. “It’s the national championship and it’s important. Qualifying is something those of us who weren’t consistent stars on the Tour had to contend with every year.
Browne Jr. played in heats of 66 (The Lakes) and 67 (Brookside) to lead 11 qualifying, most of the final 10 qualifying sites.
US Open final qualifier: Who qualified for Los Angeles Country Club
The others to come out of Columbus were Davis Thompson, Eric Cole, Nico Echavarria, Corey Pereira, Luke List, Patrick Rodgers, Kevin Streelman, Nick Dunlap and David Nyfjall. The bottom three were in the four-man playoffs. The odd one out was former US Open champion Lucas Glover and it was painful to watch.
Glover shot 9-under 63 with a three-putt on the final hole at The Lakes. But he struggled to a 73 at Brookside. On the third hole of the playoffs, Glover missed a par putt by 2 feet and was knocked out. He recently switched to a long putter, hoping it would cure what he described as yips.
Four LIV Golf players made it through the playoffs – Sebastian Munoz made it through to Maryland, while Carlos Ortiz made it through Florida, both in the playoffs. David Puig shot 64 to grab one of five spots in Los Angeles. Last month, Sergio Garcia passed a qualification in Texas.
Florida senior Fred Biondi waived his exemption for winning the NCAA title, saying he was going to turn pro. That spot went to first alternate England qualifier Jordan Gumberg, based on a USGA formula for seeding.
HL: qualifying for the US Open, the longest day in golf
In other qualifiers:
– In Ohio’s second qualifier, Taylor Pendrith and Nick Hardy were among four PGA Tour players to qualify. Fifth place ended in a playoff that Alex Schaake won against Max Moldovan in a playoff that lasted nine holes and ended with Schaake’s 3-foot birdie putt in the dark.
–In Los Angeles, UCLA sophomore Omar Morales led five qualifiers, with two spots to be decided in a 3-on-2 playoff Tuesday morning at Hillcrest Country Club. The playoffs are between Charley Hoffman, Preston Summerhays and Josh Anderson.
— In Toronto, the qualifier held before the Canadian Open, Ryan Gerard led three qualifiers. Gerard has played well enough this year to earn special temporary PGA Tour membership. The other two were Vincent Norrman and Ryan Armour. Among the missing was Michael Block, the California club professional who finished tied for 15th in the PGA Championship.
– In Florida, Ortiz won a 3-on-1 playoff for last place over Wesley Bryan and Luis Gagne. The other two qualifiers were Austen Truslow and Brendan Valdes.
– In Georgia, former NCAA champion Gordon Sargent of Vanderbilt led three qualifiers.
– In North Carolina, Yuto Katsuragawa of Japan led five qualifiers. Among those missing was Harold Varner III, a native of North Carolina.
– In New Jersey, former US junior amateur champion Michael Thorbjornsen led four qualifiers. Thorbjornsen, who has just completed his freshman year at Stanford, will play his third US Open.
– In Maryland, Munoz hit a 25-foot putt in a 4-on-2 playoff game to join four other qualifiers. Among those who lost in the playoffs was Ben Kohles, who leads the Korn Ferry Tour points list.
— In Washington State, Jesse Schutte and Alexander Yang shared the medal honors and earned the two available spots.
After the Los Angeles playoffs, the US Open field will be 150 players. The USGA reserves six spots for players who enter the top 60 on Sunday – like Adam Schenk – and if the Canadian Open winner earns his second victory on the PGA Tour since the last US Open.