Garcia ekes way into US Open; Singh takes pass

Sergio Garcia changed his mind about U.S. Open qualifying and it

paid off Monday when he earned a spot at Congressional by surviving

a seven-man playoff.

Vijay Singh also changed his mind and didn’t show up in Columbus

for the 36-hole qualifier, meaning he will miss a major

championship for the first time in 17 years.

Garcia, who has fallen to No. 75 in the world, said only last

month that he wouldn’t go through qualifying. He had rounds of

68-67 at Tunica National in Memphis, Tenn., then got one of the

four spots in a playoff to extend his streak in the majors to 47

straight. This was the first time since turning pro in 1999 that

Garcia had to qualify.

Singh’s streak of 67 consecutive majors – dating to the 1994

U.S. Open at Oakmont – ended with his no-show. According to the PGA

Tour’s website, he is no longer part of the field at the St. Jude

Classic, and there is no other way for him to get into the U.S.

Open. The USGA has said it would not give a special exemption this

year, as it did for the Fijian for last year’s U.S. Open.

Those were the two biggest developments on a day of big hopes,

with 11 sectional qualifiers in 10 states. No other major fills

half its field with anyone willing to give it a try.

Among those who got into the U.S. Open, which starts June 16 at

Congressional:

– Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, who made it

through a playoff and is going to the U.S. Open for the first time.

His grandfather won in 1960 at Cherry Hills, and Palmer tied for

fifth in 1964 when the Open first went to Congressional.

– Steve Irwin, the son of three-time U.S. Open champion Hale

Irwin, was among four qualifiers in California.

– Fred Funk, who once was the golf coach at Maryland. He will be

55 on Tuesday of the U.S. Open, and he’ll be in town as one of the

156 players in the field.

Just as noteworthy were some of the players who failed to

qualify. The list included a trio of U.S. Open champions (Steve

Jones, Lee Janzen and Tom Kite) and a trio of British Open

champions (Justin Leonard, David Duval and Ben Curtis).

”It’s entirely worth it,” Duval said. ”You can’t win the golf

tournament if you’re not in it. So I guess I’m not going to win it

this year.”

There were alternates from each of the 11 sectional sites, and

the order in which the USGA lists them will be critical. There now

are 150 players in the U.S. Open, meaning six spots are available

for anyone who cracks the top 50 in the world ranking this week –

except for Woodland, only Ross Fisher (No. 54), J.B. Holmes (No.

55) and Steve Marino (No. 59) have an outside chance.

Also to be determined is whether Tiger Woods plays in the U.S.

Open. A decision is expected this week.

UCLA freshman Patrick Cantlay was among the 16 qualifiers in

Columbus, which offered the most spots because it had the biggest

field that was filled mostly with PGA Tour players. Cantlay, who

wrapped up a sensational first season that earned him the Jack

Nicklaus Award as the top college player, had rounds of 65-70.

Brandt Jobe, a runner-up by one shot at the Memorial on Sunday,

joined Chez Reavie as co-medalists in Columbus.

Others who qualified in Columbus were Robert Garrigus, Marc

Turnesa, John Senden, D.A. Points, Marc Leishman, Kevin Chappell,

Adam Long, Justin Hicks, Nick O’Hern and Chris Wilson. Tim

Petrovic, Scott Hend and Webb Simpson were part of a six-man

playoff for three spots. Among those who got bumped out of the

playoff were former Ryder Cup players J.J. Henry and Brett

Wetterich.

Gary Woodland called officials to withdraw. He moved up to No.

41 in the world ranking after his sixth-place finish at the

Memorial, and is a lock to stay in the top 50 next week to get into

the U.S. Open.

Others who failed to earn spots out of Columbus were Rocco

Mediate, Sean O’Hair and Bob Hope winner Jhonattan Vegas.

Several other tour players were in Memphis, where amateur Bud

Cauley of Jacksonville, Fla., shared medalist honors with Sunghoon

Kang, a tour rookie from South Korea.

Chad Campbell appeared to be safe until a bogey on the final

hole dropped him into a seven-man playoff for four spots. He still

won a spot, however, along with Brian Gay, Briny Baird and

Garcia.

Among those who didn’t qualify in Memphis were former PGA

champion Rich Beem, Stephen Ames, Chris DiMarco and Boo Weekley,

who withdrew after his first 18 holes.

This was the second time in three years that Funk has qualified.

Among the other nine players who qualified in Rockville, Md., were

Ty Tryon, three-time tour winner Kirk Triplett and former U.S.

Amateur champion Bubba Dickerson.

In other qualifiers:

– Saunders earned his spot in Vero Beach, Fla., surviving a

three-for-two playoff at Quail Valley Golf Club. Joey Lamielle was

the medalist, while Michael Barbosa got the other playoff spot.

– Bennett Blakeman led three qualifiers in St. Charles, Ill.

Among those who failed to get through was Scott Langley, last

year’s NCAA champion who tied for 16th in the U.S. Open last year

and tied for low amateur.

– S.Y. Noh of South Korea, a rising star on the Asian Tour,

earned one of two spots from Springfield, Ohio.

– In Ball Ground, Ga., Russell Henley earned the last of three

spots by beating PGA Tour player Jason Dufner in a playoff at

Hawk’s Ridge Golf Club. Henley recently won a Nationwide Tour event

as an amateur, and he tied for low amateur in the U.S. Open last

year.

– At the Dallas Athletic Club, former British Open champion Todd

Hamilton earned one of four spots. Harrison Frazar and Greg

Chalmers got in through a three-for-two playoff, while Leonard

missed it by two shots. Also missing was Jordan Spieth, a teenager

who has made the cut the last two years in the Byron Nelson

Championship.

– In New Jersey, Geoffrey Sisk led the four qualifiers from

Canoe Brook, a group that included Alexander Rocha of Brazil and

Matt Richardson of England, who lost his European Tour card four

years ago.