By John Stewart, MSGA
Professionals David Hearn and Brian Bergstol collected the two available spots at The Members Club at Four Streams June 2 in sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open championship. Each produced a sub-par second round to overtake the morning leaders in a 28-man field.
Hearn, a member of the Nationwide Tour who had missed the weekend cut at Glenview, Ill., and arrived the day before the qualifier, shot 71-66 for a 5-under-par 137.
Bergstol, a former Hooters Tour player but now an assistant pro at the Shawnee-on-Delaware Resort, returned 71-68--139.
Hearn, 28, a University of Wyoming graduate who has one top-10 tour finish this season, had five birdies in his afternoon round, and the closest he came to a bogey was at the 236-yard par-3 15th, where he missed the green but finished with a par-saving 10-foot putt.
Of his five birdies, Hearn reached two par 5s in two and holed a bunker shot on the front, then rolled in a pair of 18-foot putts on the back nine.
"I wasn't happy with my morning round," he said. "But when I saw I was within two shots of the lead, I figured I had a chance."
Hearn has previously played in one Open, in 1999 at Pinehurst, N.C.
Bergstol, 23, a Moravian College graduate, tallied six birdies in his round, none longer than 10-12 feet, but had three bogeys via a three-putt and two missed greens. This will be his first Open after a couple of qualifying failures.
The alternates are amateur Amory Davis, a University of Virginia student from Chadds Ford, Pa., and David Bradshaw, from Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
MULIERI BEATS HEAT, TAKES AMATEUR TITLE
For the second day in a row, sub-par golf on the back nine at Woodholme Country Club was enough to get the job done for Michael Mulieri. Never behind in the final 27 holes, Mulieri wrapped up the 87th Amateur Championship of the Maryland State Golf Association Sunday with a 4-and-2 victory over Steven Delmar Jr. The scheduled 36-hole final was played in stifling mid-90s weather with a heat index over 100.
Mulieri, 21, a Loyola College senior who plays from the Country Club at Woodmore, had seen the last of a 3-up lead disappear when he went to the ninth tee in the afternoon. Taking a firm grip on the situation, the 5-foot-8, 140-pounder, who averages 300 yards off the tee -- a somewhat bigger Delmar also drives it that far -- produced winning birdies at holes No. 9, 10 and 11 and was not threatened the rest of the way,
The run included a 20-foot putt at the ninth -- the first putt of more than 5 feet either had made all day -- after Delmar unfolded a superb chip to 3 feet. At the 380-yard 10th, it was a drive wide left of the green and a pitch to 4 feet. Each was on the green in regulation at the par-5 11th, but Delmar missed from 20 feet and Mulieri ran in a 10-footer.
As important as those three birds were in the scheme of things, they probably should move over to give Mulieri's effort at the 12th a bit of the spotlight. While Delmar was hitting fairway and green and making a two-putt par, Mulieri missed the fairway left at the massive 483-yarder, struck his approach shot to the left side of the green, then watched his 18-foot putt run 8 feet by the cup. He calmly knocked in that come-backer to get his half and preserve the margin.
"The greens were a lot quicker today, and it was tough to be aggressive, especially on the down-hillers and sliders," said Mulieri, who admitted to being slow out of the gate again.
Delmar, a Coastal Carolina sophomore who lives in Laytonsville and plays from Montgomery Country Club, took advantage to forge an early 3-up lead after four holes, but could not sustain it. Mulieri won the next four holes -- three with pars and one at eight where he hit a 90-foot bunker shot that rolled to within 4 feet and was converted into a birdie.
"My putting was great yesterday [quarters and semis], but I couldn't seem to do it today. It's what got me here so I can't complain," Delmar said. He made it into the draw via a 13-for-7 playoff Thursday, and was No. 32 when they sorted themselves out. He is believed to be the first No. 32 seed to make it to the final of this event.
Issue 3.24: June 12, 2008