June 09, 2009
So, did you make it into the U.S. Open? Yeah, me neither. Plenty of guys did, though, including David Duval and Tom Lehman (right), guys who fought their way through a grueling 36-hole endurance match that tested nerves, will, desire and skill.
Sectionals were held all over the country on Monday, with some of the best golfers you'll ever see in your life going toe-to-toe for a precious few slots. Those who came out on the high side included Bo Van Pelt, J.B. Holmes, John Mallinger and Matthew Bettencourt.
And if you think the tension was bad going in, imagine what it was like going for the final Open slot. Nine players competed in a playoff for that lone slot. James Nitties snagged it by birdieing the first two playoff holes.
Think about that for a second. Everything you've ever wanted, right there for the taking -- and you could miss it by a single stroke. (Or worse; Open qualifying history is littered with stories of guys who accidentally went to the wrong course and missed their tee time. One player actually got himself disqualified from an Open qualifier by practicing sand shots on what he thought was the practice bunker -- but it turned out to be part of the course.) And it's not like these guys coming in through the qualifiers are going to be out the door at Bethpage by Friday; last year, a fellow by the name of Rocco Mediate made the Open after surviving a playoff, and as you may have heard, he did okay.
Almost as notable as the successes were the players who didn't make the cut -- U.S. Amateur champ Danny Lee, who surrendered his spot when he turned pro, along with John Daly and Davis Love III, among many others.
In the end, it comes down to four words that represent all that's both great and agonizing about golf: there's always next year.