Six move on the path toward Erin Hills
Posted June 2, 2017 - Western Pennsylvania Golf Association - Contact
Co-medalist, Mike Wickett, with the U.S. Open Trophy
The site of the area’s first U.S. Open Local Qualifying Round of the season has a history of resisting good scores by the region’s top amateurs and professionals.
On May 3rd Wildwood Golf Club was no different. And the U.S. Open Trophy made an appearance on its way to Erin Hills.
A mix of cold, wet, and windy weather, and a traditionally tough golf course with lush rough and fast greens, kept some of the area’s finest players from the low scores they are accustomed to posting.
A field of 40 players, 14 professionals and 26 amateurs, started at Wildwood with the hope of claiming one of the two spots to move one step closer to the championship.
Only 15 players broke 80.
Pittsburgh’s Kevin Shields, the teaching professional at The Club at Nevillewood, and Allison Park’s Mike Wickett, an amateur and multiple-time club champion at Wildwood, shot 3-over 74 to claim the spots.
Joe Gunerman of Yardley, PA, and PGA Tour China earned first alternate, and Mike Van Sickle of McKees Rocks, who made it all the way to the starting field of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, came away as second alternate.
A full field of 78 players were met with a cool spring day to play for four spots at the local qualifying round at Butler Country Club.
Butler golf professional, Rob McClellan, was primed for a top finish as he had in last year’s qualifying round. The 2011 West Penn Open champ made an eagle on the 8th hole and reached 4-under par through 14 holes. A bogey on the 15th preceded three straight pars to finish 3-under 67 to secure medalist honors. No other player broke par.
Eight players shot 1-over 71 to create one of the largest playoffs for three spots and two alternates in the past 20 years conducting qualifying by the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association.
Irwin’s Daniel Obremski, Hamilton, Ontario native Elliott Whitley, and Danny Yustin of East Amherst, New York, were eliminated on the first playoff hole, the 1st, with bogey 5.
Medina, Ohio native Patrick Luth earned the second spot on the second playoff hole, the 9th, with a birdie 3, while Latrobe’s Brady Pevarnik claimed second alternate after making bogey 5, leaving Sewickley’s Jason Li, Wheeling’s Taddeus Obecny, and Eric Bertrand of Pittsburgh to compete for the final two spots and first alternate.
After making par 3’s on the 10th, the trio moved to the par-4 11th where the playoff ended when Bertrand and Obecny earned the final two spots with par 4 and Li claimed first alternate with bogey 5.
The USGA will conduct 10 sectional qualifying sites in the U.S. and two internationally. Sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open started in Japan on May 22. Qualifying in England was held on May 29. All domestic qualifying will be held on June 5.