Block finishes just short in bid to make U.S. Open

Block finishes just short in bid to make U.S. Open

Michael Block, the teaching pro who finished tied for 15th at last month’s PGA Championship, came up short in his bid to qualify for next week’s U.S. Open.

Block shot a 36-hole score of 5-under 135 at Lambton Golf & Country Club in Toronto on Monday to finish just shy of qualifying. Twenty-seven players competed for three spots at Lambton; Block finished in sixth place, 2 shots out of third.

Medalist Ryan Gerard (11 under), Vincent Norman (8 under) and Ryan Armour (7 under) grabbed the three qualifying spots at the venue.

Block teaches in California but is in Canada this week for the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open, to which he received a sponsor’s invite after his Cinderella run at the PGA.

His son, Dylan Block, also attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open on Monday but was well back in the 89-player field at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles.

Monday marked the final 36-hole qualifying at 10 venues across North America. The U.S. Open will be held next week at the Los Angeles Country Club.

In Columbus, Ohio, Stewart Cink got a pep talk from his wife on Monday to keep patient, and he ran off five birdies over six holes at Brookside Golf & Country Club to become one of 11 players to earn spots out of that qualifier.

“I just love playing in majors,” said Cink, a former British Open champion. “I’m a one-trick pony, and you can’t be a one-trick pony if you can’t do your trick. I’ll keep trying to qualify forever.”

Columbus had the most PGA Tour players because of the Memorial Tournament that finished on Sunday. Viktor Hovland already is exempt for the U.S. Open. He still showed up at qualifying to caddie 36 holes for former Oklahoma State roommate Zach Bauchou, who didn’t make it.

The medalist was Olin Browne Jr., the son of PGA Tour winner Olin Browne, and the connection to qualifying was what makes this long day so appealing.

It was in 2005 when the elder Browne shot 73 over the first 18 holes and contemplated withdrawing because he was so far behind. He changed his mind, however, thinking, “How can you quit at something and then tell your kids you can’t quit.”

He shot 59 that day and two weeks later was in the penultimate group at Pinehurst No. 2. His son remembers that moment well.

“He called me up on the phone. I said, ‘How did it go?'” Olin Browne Jr. said. “He said, ‘Oh, I shot 69.’ And I was like, ‘Sorry you missed.’ He said, ‘No, no. I shot 59.’ I misunderstood him. It’s a vivid memory. I remember hollering at him in the car on the drive home.”

And now it’s the son’s turn, and the father couldn’t be more proud.

“It’s gratifying that he’s been able to do something that makes him feel like all the work has been worth it,” Browne’s father said. “It’s the national championship, and it’s a big deal. Qualifying is something those of us who weren’t consistent stars on tour had to face on a yearly basis.”

Browne had rounds of 66 (The Lakes) and 67 (Brookside) to lead 11 qualifiers, the most of any of the 10 final qualifying sites.

Others to advance out of Columbus were Davis Thompson, Eric Cole, Nico Echavarria, Corey Pereira, Luke List, Patrick Rodgers, Kevin Streelman, Nick Dunlap and David Nyfall. The last three were in a four-man playoff. The odd man out was former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, and it was a painful to watch.

Glover shot 9-under 63 with a three-putt on the final hole at The Lakes. But he struggled to a 73 at Brookside. In the third playoff hole, Glover missed a 2-foot par putt and was eliminated. He recently switched to a long putter, hopeful it would cure what he described as the yips.

Two players now with LIV Golf made it through in playoffs — Sebastian Munoz made it out of the Maryland qualifier, while Carlos Ortiz advanced through Florida. Three others — Matt Jones, Cameron Tringale and David Puig — fell short at the qualifier at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, where Charley Hoffman, Preston Summerhays, Josh Anderson will return Tuesday morning for a 3-for-2 playoff after all three finished tied for fourth at 9 under (89 players vied for five spots there).

Jaden Soong, 13, also missed out at Hillcrest, going 73-76.

Florida senior Fred Biondi gave up his exemption for winning the NCAA title, saying he was going to turn pro. That spot went to the first alternate from the England qualifier, Jordan Gumberg, based on a USGA formula for distributing spots.

In other qualifiers:

• In Florida, Ortiz won a 3-for-1 playoff for the last spot over Wesley Bryan and Luis Gagne. The other two qualifiers were Austen Truslow and Brendan Valdes.

• In Georgia, former NCAA champion Gordon Sargent of Vanderbilt led three qualifiers.

• In North Carolina, Yuto Katsuragawa of Japan led five qualifiers. Among those missing out were North Carolina native Harold Varner III.

• In New Jersey, former U.S. Junior Amateur champion Michael Thorbjornsen led four qualifiers. Thorbjornsen, who just finished his junior year at Stanford, will be playing at his third U.S. Open.

• In Maryland, Munoz made a 25-foot putt in a 4-for-2 playoff to join four other qualifiers. Among those who lost in the playoff was Ben Kohles, who leads the Korn Ferry Tour points list.

After qualifying, the U.S. Open field will stand at 150 players. The USGA is reserving six spots for players who will move into the top 60 on Sunday — such as Adam Schenk — and if the Canadian Open winner gets his second PGA Tour win since the last U.S. Open.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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