No one said qualifying for the USDGC on Monday would be easy. And with this year’s weather conditions, it made for one of the toughest qualifiers to date with no one shooting below par.
But a few were able to weather the storm. Those now qualified to the Open Flight are: Weston Isaacs 67 (even), Jason Tyra 67, Cameron Lincoln 69 (+, and Kyle Webster 70 (+3), who emerged from a three-man playoff.
The conditions didn’t stop the hopeful. About 100 players tried their hand at qualifying throughout the day. Tyra made the trip all the way from Grass Valley, CA, and when he returned from his third attempt with a 67 he couldn’t have cared less about being soaked.
“It feels awesome. I couldn’t tell you how good I feel,” said Tyra, who made a similar trip for the 2009 USDGC, but missed the cut by a few strokes and told himself then that he’d never try to qualify on Monday again.
For most of the day it was dry, but gusty winds up to 26 miles per hour wreaked havoc on scorecards. And when the winds dissipated, they were soon replaced with rain showers for the day’s duration.
Taking it all in during the wind storm was 5-time USDGC Champ Ken Climo and Patrick Brown, who finished 4th in last year’s event. Both were glad they already qualified and didn’t have to face these conditions.
Many were wondering if this would be Paige Pierce’s year to qualify for the Open Flight. She submitted a respectable 72, but as more scores came in, Pierce didn’t last in the top five for long.
When Samson was asked what the key was to his (+2), he said it was about not getting greedy, especially during the back 9.
“Why get greedy? Take your four and move on. If you have to, just pitch out,” said Samson, who reminded himself to not get greedy in his course notes.
When all of the scorecards were turned in, three men were tied at 70 for the last spot. They included: Ben Wiggins, Max Nichols, and Kyle Webster. All three headed to Hole 18 in the steady rain for the first playoff hole, but only Webster was able to negotiate the hole in par and thus punched his ticket to the Open Flight.
Even in the rain, Webster made the hole look routine with two midrange throws, followed by a lay-up by the basket and an easy putt for par.
“It’s my first time here. I’ve seen all the videos,” said Webster afterwards. “It felt like I knew the course … To qualify is really a treat.”