YORK, Pa. — A surging collegiate and a resurgent professional shared medalist honors in a U.S. Open Local Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at a rainy Country Club of York (par 70, 6,664 yards) Wednesday.
Connor Sheehan, an amateur out of Conestoga Country Club, and David Hilgers, a professional dabbling in mini-tour events and Monday qualifiers, carded respective 1-under-par 69s to grab two of five qualifying positions available. Amateur Steven Kluemper and professionals Alex Blickle and Craig Hornberger all etched even-par 70s to advance as well.
The 118th U.S. Open will take place June 11-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
Fresh off a third-place showing in the NCAA Division II Atlantic/East Super Regional, Sheehan, a senior at Millersville University, stayed relaxed throughout the day, discussing strategy and trading jokes with caddie, teammate and friend Mitch Burns. A stipulated U.S. Open qualifying rule added mental ease, too.
“It really took my mind of it not having a rangefinder. Mitch and I had to map out the yardages,” Sheehan, 22, of Quarryville, Pa., said. “I haven’t had to play without a rangefinder in a while. That kept me calm because I was more worried about picking the right number, getting the right club. I was talking to Mitch a lot.”
A practice round also soothed Sheehan’s York soul.
“I played Sunday pretty much in these conditions. It helped me,” he said. “I hit my driver well then, and I hit it well today. I was basically in the same spots.”
Starting on the back nine, Sheehan bagged his first birdie on the par 5, 525-yard 14th hole. The rain began to intensify as he blocked his drive into the trees. Targeting a pair of electrical boxes noted during the aforementioned practice round, Sheehan punched out of trouble with a pitching wedge. He then hammered a downhill hybrid 235 yards to 10 feet and made the right-to-left breaker. A reverse scenario on the next hole (par 4, 471 yards), where Sheehan missed a 10-footer for par following a leaky hybrid off the tee. Following another bogey on No. 5 (par 4, 393 yards), Sheehan, packed with power in a 5’6” frame, rebounded with a birdie on the next hole (par 3, 174 yards), stopping a smooth 7-iron at 12 feet.
Sheehan’s practice round again paid dividends on his last hole — the par 4, 479-yard No. 9. He hit a 5-iron 180 yards to 10 feet and buried a right-to-left breaker. All of this after a near disastrous tee shot.
“I hit it and I looked up and thought, ‘Oh boy. Don’t go any farther right.’ It just skimmed the trees, but it’s the shortest way to the hole,” Sheehan, a bio-education major, said.
Sheehan’s first U.S. Open qualifying attempt continues June 4 at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md. for the Sectional stage.
“I’m still swinging well. I figured I’d give it a try,” Sheehan said. “I missed sign-ups last year.”
Hilgers, 27, of Hershey, Pa., is starting to swing well following a year-plus marred with injuries. He suffered a seizure during his sleep in February 2017, which caused muscle tears in his elbow. Hilgers then tore his MCL in July 2017. He pressed the reset button by heading to Florida this winter.
“I feel like I’ve just matured a lot as a golfer. I haven’t taken the most conventional route to do this,” Hilgers said.
Starting on the front nine, Hilgers birdied two of his first three holes. He drilled a 6-iron 175 yards to 20 feet on No. 1 (par 4, 425 yards). A hole-out from the right greenside bunker on No. 3 (par 3, 232 yards) officially set the co-medalist in motion.
“That was probably the turning point,” Hilgers said. “I could only see the top half of the flag. I hit a nice nippy one and it spun, hit the pin and went in. I got off to a good start.”
Like Sheehan, Hilgers seemingly gained a stroke on the field thanks to a 2 on the difficult No. 6. He knocked an 8-iron to 15 feet. If York offered any takebacks, then Hilgers would revisit the par 3, 204-yard 12th hole.
“The only shot I want back from the day is the one-foot putt [for par] I missed there,” he said.
Hilgers will make his Sectional qualifying appearance. He previously advanced in 2013.
Kluemper, 25, of Bethlehem, Pa., is the 2015 Eastern Pennsylvania Amateur Champion and Centenary College alum. Blickle and Hornberger are homegrown professionals, with roots at LedgeRock Golf Club and Lancaster Country Club, respectively.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 200 Full Member Clubs and 70,000 individual members are spread across Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|(a) Connor Sheehan, Quarryville, Pa.||69|
|David Hilgers, Hershey, Pa.||69|
|(a) Steven Kluemper, Bethlehem, Pa.||70|
|Craig Hornberger, Lancaster, Pa.||70|
|Alex Blickle, Reading, Pa.||70|
|Alternates (in order)|
|Brett Melton, East Fallowfield, Pa.||71|
|*(a) Joe Parrini, York, Pa.||72|
|Failed to qualify|
|Christopher Crawford, Bensalem, Pa.||72|
|(a) Zachary Juhasz, Bethlehem, Pa.||72|
|(a) Danny Harcourt, Fanwood, N.J.||72|
|(a) Jarred Texter, Millersville, Pa.||72|
|Ben Boyle, Boiling Springs, Pa.||72|
|(a) Max Siegfried, Villanova, Pa.||72|
|(a) Connor Flach, Ellicott City, Md.||73|
|Mike Furey,, Summit Hill, Pa.||73|
|Trevor Bensel, Philadelphia, Pa.||73|
|Matt Hardman, Gettysburg, Pa.||74|
|(a) Jason Wilson, Orefield, Pa.||74|
|(a) Tyler Newton, Bel Air, Md.||74|
|Vince Ramagli, Plainsboro, N.J.||74|
|(a) Brandon Knaub, York, Pa.||74|
|(a) Kevin Scherr, Nazareth, Pa.||74|
|(a) Church Waesche, Timonium, Md.||75|
|Bertus Wessels, Erdenheim, Pa.||75|
|Nick Tremps, Williamsburg, Va.||75|
|(a) Campbell Wolf, Mechanicsburg, Pa.||75|
|Mark Kriston, Clemmons, N.C.||75|
|Joshua Grundon, Carlisle, Pa.||75|
|(a) Zachary Barbin, Elkton, Md.||75|
|(a) Benjamin Shields, Towson, Md.||75|
|(a) Chris Kopack, Ramsey, N.J.||75|
|(a) Garrett Engle, Harrisburg, Pa.||76|
|(a) Ross Pilliod, Reading, Pa.||76|
|Garrett Bastardi, State College, Pa.||76|
|(a) Joseph Myers, Havertown, Pa.||76|
|(a) Karl Frisk, Spring Grove, Pa.||76|
|T. Jay Fairlie, Broomall, Pa.||76|
|Mike Paukovits, Nazareth, Pa.||76|
|Harrison Brink, Chambersburg, Pa.||76|
|(a) Andrew Rice, Parkton, Md.||77|
|(a) Austin Green, Greencastle, Pa.||77|
|(a) Andrew Forjan, York, Pa.||78|
|Dustin Wallis, Noble, Pa.||78|
|Tyler Mersinger, Wyomissing, Pa.||78|
|Matthew Yorgey, Stuart, Fla.||78|
|(a) Caleb Bryant, Railroad, Pa.||78|
|(a) Matthew Chalupa, Landenberg, Pa.||78|
|Jordan Shuey, Mechanicsburg, Pa.||79|
|(a) Phillip Held, Lafayette Hill, Pa.||79|
|(a) David West, Exton, Pa.||79|
|Bob Dyer, Middletown, Ohio||79|
|John Ladow, Melbourne, Fla.||79|
|(a) Jonathan Michael Giambalvo, York, Pa.||80|
|(a) Daniel Hernandez, Mechanicsburg, Pa.||80|
|(a) Davis Harris, San Diego, Calif.||80|
|(a) Brandon Raihl, Wernersville, Pa.||80|
|(a) Nathan Fry, Nazareth, Pa.||80|
|(a) Austin Schreffler, Dillsburg, Pa.||81|
|(a) Alex Golland, Wynnewood, Pa.||81|
|(a) Wills Montgomery, Exton, Pa.||81|
|James Bromwell, Schuylkill Haven, Pa.||81|
|(a) Hunter Ramee, Warren, Conn.||81|
|(a) William Evan Thornton, Delray Beach, Fla.||81|
|(a) Michael Disante, York Haven, Pa.||82|
|(a) Parker Wine, West Chester, Pa.||82|
|Christopher Wellde, Baltimore, Md.||82|
|(a) William Marquette, Gettysburg, Pa.||83|
|(a) David Kuntz, III, Lancaster, Pa.||83|
|Rick Burk, Ashburn, Va.||84|
|(a) Blake Hinckley, Chadds Ford, Pa.||85|
|Justin Meyers, Downingtown, Pa.||85|
|(a) David Hurly, South Africa||87|
|(a) Mike Locastro, Paramus, N.J.||87|
|(a) Timothy Hummel, Burke, Va.||NS|
|(a) Blake Sebring, York, Pa.||NS|
|Zachary Ramey, Ashburn, Va.||WD|
|(a) Chris Campbell, Canada||WD|
|Robert Linepensel, Washington, N.J.||WD|
|*-determined in playoff|
|NS-no show; WD-withdrawal|
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