June 6, 2011

Four On the Number

Three professionals and one amateur are leaving Canoe Brook happy after earning spots in the 111th U.S. Open. Geoff Sisk, a 46-year-old Nationwide Tour pro from Marshfield, Mass., qualified for his sixth U.S. Open and earned medalist honors with a total of six-under-par 137. Three players finished one stroke behind him at 138: 19-year-old amateur Cheng-tsung Pan, Alexandre Rocha of Brazil, and Englishman Matt Richardson.

Zack Byrd and Nate McCoy, who finished at 139, played off for the alternate positions, with Byrd earning first alternate after a chip-in on the first playoff hole.

Pan Pulls Ahead Through 27

The youngster Cheng-tsun Pan made the turn in his afternoon round at one-under-par and stands at six-under-par total through 27 holes. Three-time U.S. Open qualifier Geoffrey Sisk made a big move, shooting four-under-par 32 on his front nine on the North Course to leap to five-under-par total.

Sixes are Wild

Ideal scoring conditions are contributing to a lot of red numbers on the scoreboard at U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying. Two players posted scores of five-under 66 on the South Course this morning: 18-year-old amateur Cheng-tsung Pan and four-time European Tour winner Mathias Gronberg. Pan is nearing high school graduation from the IMG Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and will play golf for the University of Washington starting in the fall. Gronberg, 39, is currently in the top 10 on the Nationwide Tour money list and enjoying one of his best seasons on that tour.

Liu a Titleholding Teenager

There is only one player in today's U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying field who has previously hoisted a USGA championship trophy: 15-year-old Jim Liu, who also happens to be the youngest player at Canoe Brook today. Liu, of Smithtown, N.Y., on Long Island, won the U.S. Junior last year in Michigan, and broke the record previously held by Tiger Woods as the youngest champion in that event's history. Liu is aiming to play in his first U.S. Open.

Positive MGA Vibes

There are 11 U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying sites across the country, and players choose the site where they'd like to attempt to qualify. Nine players in the field today at Canoe Brook have successfully qualified for past U.S. Opens in MGA-run qualifiers, and hope that teeing it up in the Met Area once again will yield the same result. The players, and where they previously qualified, are as follows:
--Geoffrey Sisk (2007, Century CC/Old Oaks CC, Purchase, N.Y.; 2004, Canoe Brook; 2003, Century/Old Oaks)
--Chris Nallen (2006 and 2005, Canoe Brook)
--Andrew Svoboda (2006, Canoe Brook)
--Jim McGovern (2002, Century/Old Oaks)
--Yohann Benson (2008, Century/Old Oaks)
--Michael Welch (2009, Century/Old Oaks)
--Jim Herman (2010, Canoe Brook)
--Jon Curran (2010, Canoe Brook)
--Dan McCarthy (2010, Canoe Brook)

Svoboda Aims for Fourth Open

Among the 83 U.S. Open hopefuls at Canoe Brook Country Club this morning is 2003 Met Open and 2004 Met Amateur champion Andrew Svoboda, who now plays full-time on the Nationwide Tour. The 31-year-old St. John's alumnus has played in three career U.S. Opens, including two of the last three (2009 at Bethpage and 2008 at Torrey Pines). He is paired today with Mark McCormick, the head professional at Suburban Golf Club in Union, N.J.