Hurley Punches Third Straight U.S. Open Ticket
By Garrett Johnston
ROCKVILLE, Md. – Billy Hurley III shot 9-under-par 135 in a June 6 U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Woodmont Country Club, while Denny McCarthy and Chase Parker emerged from a 3-for-2 playoff to secure their spots in next week’s U.S. Open at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club.
Hurley led at 5 under through the first 18 of 36 holes, but took a few holes to get going on his second 18. Once he did, no one could catch him. Hurley went out in even-par 36 and heated up on his inward nine with four birdies for a 4-under 32. On the day Hurley posted only one bogey and was medalist by three strokes.
This is the third straight year Hurley has qualified at Woodmont, and he appreciates the close proximity to his home less than 50 miles away in Annapolis, Md.
“It’s always special to qualify, it doesn’t matter where you qualify. It’s always nice to do it at home when you can sleep in your own bed,” Hurley said. “That definitely makes it a little more fun.”
Hurley will soon head to what he called “the toughest golf course on the planet” at Oakmont, where he competed in the 2003 U.S. Amateur. Hurley remembers a stern test that year, especially the way the rough was prepared.
“I remember we were playing a practice round and they had 12 guys raking the rough on either side of the fairway,” Hurley said. “It stood straight up and the ball went straight down. It will be a good test.”
But now he’s got to fly to Memphis Tuesday morning, where he will play in the FedEx St. Jude Classic this week, the start of five tournaments in a row on his schedule.
McCarthy, a 2015 Walker Cup competitor, Parker and Mike Van Sickle finished at 6 under par. McCarthy’s birdie and Parker’s par eliminated Van Sickle from the playoff after he made bogey.
McCarthy made it through last year at this very spot in his only other sectional-qualifying attempt. The Rockville native made sure the nearly 100 friends and family members following him kept him updated of his position throughout his two rounds.
He emerged from a group of nine players who were tied for fifth at 1 under after 18 holes, including 2015 qualifier Tim O’Neal, PGA Tour pro Steve Wheatcroft, as well as Parker and Van Sickle. McCarthy vaulted to 6 under with a 5-under 67 and gave the local crowd a jolt when he dropped a 10-foot putt for par on his final hole, the ninth, and added an emphatic fist pump.
“I thought my spot was actually secured after I made par on nine, but then I had to regather my focus,” McCarthy said. “It wasn’t too hard, I probably relaxed my mind for five minutes before I heard we were going to be in a playoff.”
As McCarthy prepared for the playoff at the practice area, a fan said, “Well, you’ve saved your best for the final nine.” McCarthy responded, “It’s not over yet,” and kept a steely resolve even in familiar territory.
McCarthy returns to the U.S. Open after making last year’s cut in his debut at Chambers Bay, where he also competed in the 2010 U.S. Amateur.
Parker is now one-for-one in sectional qualifiers after his performance Monday.
The Augusta, Ga., native and former University of Kentucky Wildcat figures he’s competed in about six local qualifiers in previous years, but never had he made it this far. Now that he’s secured his spot at Oakmont, Parker says he looks forward to its speedy greens.
“That bodes well for me, I like that,” Parker said. “The faster they get, the better I putt. I’m sure they’ll be pretty fast at Oakmont.”
Parker was stuck in neutral through 23 holes at even par, but somehow summoned a 6-under stretch to finish with a flurry.
“I don’t know where that came from, something just happened,” Parker said. “I turned it on and started making some putts. The further into the round I went, the better I started hitting it.”
“It’s the U.S. Open, it’s golf’s biggest stage, so I’m looking forward to it,” Parker said.
Sean Bosdosh won his playoff over Ryan Sullivan for the second alternate spot. Van Sickle takes the first-alternate spot after his playoff loss against McCarthy and Parker. Notables who failed to qualify included Wheatcroft and PGA Tour Champions pro Woody Austin.
Garrett Johnston is a freelance writer.