The longest day in golf is finally upon us as sectional qualifying for the 2022 U.S. Open is scheduled for Monday. Amateurs, standout collegiate golfers, an ex-NFL player and PGA Tour mainstays will be participating, all with the same hope of claiming their spot in the field for the third major championship of the year.
While this event occurs every year and fantastic stories are often produced, this summer is different as the U.S. Open travels to The Country Club at Brookline just outside of Boston. More than 100 years removed from Francis Ouimet’s historic U.S. Open victory, the 20-year-old Massachusetts resident became the first amateur to win the national championship as he defeated Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, two of the best players in the professional ranks, in an 18-hole playoff after the three were tied after regulation.
It is hard to fathom something similar occurring this day and age, but the game of golf has never been so deep. If one is to follow in the footsteps of Ouimet, they must first advance out of one of the nine qualifying sites located from Florida to California including one venue up north in Canada.
Below are some of the notable players participating from each qualifying site.
RattleSnake Point Golf Club — Milton, Ontario
- C.T. Pan: The Olympic bronze medalist will look to play in his sixth U.S. Open. His best finish to date was a tie for 45th at Merion in 2013. He made the cut at the Memorial Tournament despite carding a 10 in Round 1, marking his seventh consecutive payday on the PGA Tour.
The Olympic Club — San Francisco
- Maverick McNealy: The world No. 81 has only participated in the U.S. Open twice and was unable to make the cut in either instance. He has enjoyed a strong 2021-22 season with a runner-up performance at the Fortinet Championship and a top-10 finish at the Genesis Invitational, both in his home state of California.
The Club at Admirals Cove — Jupiter, Florida
- Alex Fitzpatrick: The younger brother of Matt Fitzpatrick, Alex is a standout player at Wake Forest. While Matt will be the topic of conversations at The Country Club due to his 2013 U.S. Amateur victory, let us not forget it was Alex who was his caddie that memorable week. He’s possesses plenty of game as he ranked sixth in the PGA Tour University Rankings.
- Rickie Fowler: The 33-year-old hasn’t played in a U.S. Open since 2020 but comes into this qualifier having made the cut in four straight outings on the PGA Tour. One of those starts included a tie for 23rd at the PGA Championship where he impressed from tee to green.
- Matthew Wolff: It is hard to believe this is where we are at with the 2020 runner-up, but Wolff has played sparingly the past two years. He was coming off a long hiatus ahead of last year’s championship at Torrey Pines and surprised many as he contended over the weekend and ultimately finished in a tie for 15th.
Ansley Golf Club — Roswell, Georgia
- Smylie Kaufman: He was last seen at the PGA Championship with a microphone in hand as the clubs have betrayed him the last few years. He missed the cut at the Puerto Rico Open in March and outside of his 2016 Masters has failed to make the cut in any major championship. Despite this, it would be nice to see Kaufman back in a major setting as a player rather than an announcer.
Woodmont Country Club — Rockville, Maryland
- Harry Higgs: The post-Masters hangover has been a brutal one for Higgs as he has missed five of six cuts after his T14 finish at Augusta National. He has yet to tee it up in the national championship and his recent play suggests his debut may have to wait another year.
Century Country Club, Old Oaks Country Club — Purchase, New York
- Haotong Li: The 36-hole leader from the 2020 PGA Championship has found some form on the DP World Tour the past few months. He finished in sixth-place at the ISPS Handa Championship and will hope to play in the U.S. Open for the first time in three years.
- Brandon Matthews: The bomb-and-gouge strategy has been successful in the U.S. Open and Matthews could easily employ this as he is arguably the longest player in the world. I am hoping he captures some magic and qualifies as it would be a sight to behold at a shorter venue like The Country Club.
Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club, Wedgewood Golf and Country Club — Columbus, Ohio
- Pierceson Coody and Cole Hammer: Members of the 2022 NCAA National Championship team from the University of Texas, they will look to follow in the footsteps of Beau Hossler and Jordan Spieth as Longhorns to make some noise at the U.S. Open.
- Davis Riley: It is a crime that Riley has to qualify. The Alabama product has not finished outside the top 20 on any leaderboard in nearly two months and is a serious threat to capture Rookie of the Year honors. If he successfully makes his way through, it would be his third appearance in the U.S. Open.
- Padraig Harrington: The European Ryder Cup captain from Whistling Straits, Harrington has played well on the Champions Tour with two runner-up finishes in May. He may be 50, but he still has game to contend with the best in the world as showcased by his tie for fourth in the 2021 PGA Championship.
Springfield Country Club — Springfield, Ohio
- Danny Woodhead: Do you believe in miracles? The former NFL running back has since become a stick at golf and if able to play his way into our national championship, I am not sure there would be a better story in the world of sports all year. Of the 871 players participating in sectional qualifying, he may be the one all golf fans are rooting for.
- Sahith Theegala: Twice a participant in the U.S. Open, including last year at Torrey Pines, Theegala has since taken to the PGA Tour. He finished strong at the Memorial Tournament and given his propensity to go super low, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see him advance.
Pronghorn Resort — Bend, Oregon
- Joe Highsmith: A standout on the highly decorated 2021 NCAA National Championship Pepperdine Waves, Highsmith earned medalist honors in the Oregon qualifier last year. If he does so again, he will secure his place behind Joel Dahmen as the best golfer from the Northwest to rock a bucket hat.