Davis Love III is in, surviving a sectional qualifier packed with established PGA Tour pros. D.A. Points, in. Steve Marino, in. Rod Pampling, in.
Ryan Moore, Ben Curtis, Johnson Wagner, Johnatton Vegas — all winners on the big tour — all out, at the same brutal sectional in Columbus, Ohio.
Andres Gonzales — disqualified.
It’s U.S. Open qualifying, and you’d better be good, over 36 holes on one day, if you want to play in the American national championship.
Love III got no exemption from qualifying for the U.S. Open by being a past major winner (PGA Championship, 1997), nor did his 20 career PGA Tour titles earn Love any love when it came to Open qualifying.
His PGA win didn’t come in the last five years. His 20 victories dating back to 1987 (his most recent win was 2008) didn’t help him make the field at the season-ending Tour Championship last year, nor get him into the top 60 in the World Golf Rankings this year, either of which would have earned him an exemption.
By qualifying the hard way, Love will play in his 23rd U.S. Open.
Johnson Wagner, with one PGA win this year and one last year, nevertheless hasn’t cracked World Golf’s top 60 … so he had to schlepp to Columbus to try and play his way in. Wagner, with nearly $2.1 million in winnings this year, is No. 64 in the world.
Steve Valandra filed this on Shane Prante (May 29 in this space), who tested the Open sectional at Daly City, Calif.:
Although disappointed by not qualifying for the U.S. Open (6 over par, tied for 88th), Shane Prante is not down in the dumps.
“I didn’t play that badly. It just happened to be really rainy and windy. I lost two balls during the first round (a 76) in the first cut of rough. Not much you can do about that. I went for everything in the second round (74) because I needed a ridiculously low round. A friend of mine (who qualified) said he hit trees on the course, but got the kicks and made 35-foot putts.
Prante said he expects to play in a professional event in two weeks.