WILMINGTON, Del. — Home-club hopeful Danny Dougherty and fellow amateur Erick Alonso, a junior at Loyola University Maryland, along with Zachary Oakley, an assistant professional at Waynesborough Country Club, carded respective 3-under-par 68s to share medalist honors in a U.S. Open Local Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at DuPont Country Club (par 71, 7,044 yards) Thursday.
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David Sanders, a homegrown professional who competes in mini-tour events, also qualified in regulation with a 2-under-par 69. A sudden-death playoff at 70 to determine the final spot did not finish due to lightning in the area. Professional Zachary Lese of Silver Spring, Md. and amateur Cole Miller of New Tripoli, Pa. returned to DuPont the following day (May 11) to compete. Miller, a senior at Penn State University and the 2016 Pennsylvania Golf Association Amateur Champion, advanced with a two-putt par on No. 18 (par 4, 440 yards), the fourth playoff hole.
The 118th U.S. Open will take place June 11-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
The co-medalists each experienced critical turning points in their respective rounds Thursday. A birdie on the par 4, 440-yard 18th hole accelerated Dougherty, who started on the back nine. He dropped a double-breaker from 30 feet after finding the green with a 7-iron from 172 yards.
“I’ve had that putt a couple of times before so I knew what it was going to do,” Dougherty, 18, of Wilmington, Del., said. “After that, I started seeing the lines better and starting rolling my putts better.”
His vision went from 20/70 to 20/20. Dougherty buried a 40-footer for birdie from the back of the No. 3 (par 4, 430 yards) green following a 100-yard sand wedge set-up. Pinpoint wedges made subsequent subpar chances less dicey. A sand wedge from 80 and 105 yards established three-footers on Nos. 4 (par 4, 385 yards) and 7 (par 4, 410 yards). Dougherty nearly jarred a gap wedge from 117 yards on No. 6 (par 4, 384 yards) for eagle.
Growing up at DuPont clearly served as an advantage Thursday.
“It was really a big factor. I play here all of the time. I’ll probably be out here all of the time this summer,” Dougherty, a senior at Tower Hill School, said. “With no rangefinders [permitted in the event], I think it was definitely a big help. I missed the cut by a shot last year at Running Deer (Golf Club), so I was really excited coming in, especially having it at my home course.”
Also working — literally — in Dougherty’s favor — was caddie and father Dan.
“He’s been a member here for a long time, so it was fun,” Dougherty, who will attend Villanova University in the fall, said.
Dougherty, the two-time reigning Delaware State Golf Association Junior Player of the Year, thinks he will travel to Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md. for Sectional qualifying June 4. Forgive the senioritis moment.
Oakley’s decisive juncture came in the form of a conversation on the No. 5 (par 3, 181) tee.
“We had a rules official come up to us and tell us we might be getting a one-stroke [pace of play] penalty. That threw me for a loop there,” Oakley, 35, of Lewes, Del., said. “I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t too happy about it to be honest with you. I wasn’t thinking on that hole and made a dumb double bogey. I’ve been in situations like that before, so I just tried to hit a solid tee shot on the next hole. I made two really good birdie putts following that.”
Oakley responded by firing back-to-back birdies. He knocked a lob wedge 80 yards to five feet on No. 6 (par 4, 384 yards), another wedge 90 yards to eight feet on No. 7 (par 4, 410 yards). A thinned 5-iron on the downhill par 3, 210-yard No. 8 spearheaded a bogey. Oakley reclaimed the lost stroke by powering a 3-wood from 260 yards into the green’s upslope on No. 9 (par 5, 548 yards), prompting a two-putt from 30 feet for birdie.
Overall, Oakley, who started on the back nine, tallied eight birdies on the day. A 20-footer on the par 5, 586-yard 11th hole started the subpar steamroller. He rattled off three straight halfway through his outward tour: a 54-degree wedge from 100 yards to six feet on No. 14 (par 4, 410 yards), a 135-yard wedge to eight feet on No. 15 (par 4, 448 yards) and a flip wedge to eight feet on No. 16 (par 5, 566 yards). Another flip wedge on the par 4, 430-yard No. 3 also resulted in an eight-footer for birdie.
Like Dougherty, Oakley used course experience to his advantage Thursday.
“I grew up in Southern Delaware, so I played a bunch of Junior golf here. My cousin (Morgan Lightcap) was a member here so I remember coming here as a kid,” he said. “This is probably my sixth time playing here. I’ve always liked this course. The greens are always really nice.”
Conversely, Alonso, 22, of Jupiter, Fla., saw DuPont for the first time Thursday.
“I came up here with one of my teammates (Brendan Peel). We kind of just did it because of the proximity to Loyola, and the qualifying sites in Maryland just didn’t work out,” he said. “Everything was working today. It felt nice to get everything going. I made a lot of good putts. The greens are pretty flat out here. If you give yourself 20-footers, you have a really good chance of making them.”
For his part of the medalists’ turning point theme, Alonso opened with a crucial par on No. 1 (par 4, 448 yards), his first hole. He missed the green left with a wedge from 120 yards. Alonso stopped his ensuing pitch four feet from the cup and saved par.
“That kind of jumpstarted me a little and helped me get going,” he said.
A humbled Alonso also cited a pair of back-nine birdies as highlights. On No. 11 (par 5, 586 yards), he pummeled a hybrid 262 yards and two-putted. Alonso hit a gap wedge 152 yards to 25 feet on No. 15 (par 4, 448 yards).
Alonso and Oakley will head to Sectional qualifying June 4 Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J. Oakley’s advanced to that stage on two occasions prior (2014, 2016). It will be Alonso’s first appearance.
Sanders, who will next try to qualify for the PGA TOUR Canada, gained a Sectional berth for the eight time in the last 15 years.
“Hopefully this will be the year I break through and play well,” Sanders, 27, of West Palm Beach, Fla., said. “I’m playing scoring well. I just need to make a couple more putts each round and avoid the one missed shot.”
NOTES — Fog caused an hour and a half delay in the morning. Players were also called off the course for a 23-minute lightning delay … The Golf Association of Philadelphia will next administer a U.S. Open Local Qualifier on Wednesday, May 16 at Country Club of York.
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) Erick Alonso, Jupiter, Fla.||68|
|(a) Danny Dougherty, Wilmington, Del.||68|
|Zachary Oakley, Lewes, Del.||68|
|David Sanders, Mount Laurel, N.J.||69|
|*(a) Cole Miller, New Tripoli, Pa.||70|
|Alternates (in order)|
|*Zachary Lese, Silver Spring, Md.||70|
|*(a) Ashton Poole, Charlotte, N.C.||70|
|Failed to qualify|
|*(a) Reese McFarlane, Cape Elizabeth, Maine||70|
|Jason Alexander, The Woodlands, Texas||71|
|(a) Austin Barbin, Elkton, Md.||71|
|(a) Matthew Finger, Wilmington, Del.||71|
|(a) Jolo Timothy Magcalayo, Philippines||71|
|(a) Russell Wren, Morgantown, Pa.||71|
|(a) Michael Brown, Maple Shade, N.J.||72|
|(a) Adam Mistretta, Easton, Pa.||72|
|Michael Tobiason, Jr., Wilmington, Del.||72|
|(a) Joseph Dulka, West Chester, Pa.||73|
|Billy Stewart, Devon, Pa.||73|
|(a) Dawson Anders, Telford, Pa.||74|
|J.D. Dornes, Lancaster, Pa.||74|
|(a) Benjamin Feld, Philadelphia, Pa.||74|
|Michael Ferguson, Salem, Va.||74|
|Christopher Gray, Middletown, Del.||74|
|Rusty Harbold, Abington, Pa.||74|
|(a) Brian Isztwan, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.||74|
|(a) Alex Mulrooney, Wilmington, Del.||74|
|David Quinn, Marlton, N.J.||74|
|(a) Caleb Ryan, Norristown, Pa.||74|
|Braden Shattuck, Aston, Pa.||74|
|(a) Michael Sydnes, Bryn Mawr, Pa.||74|
|(a) Jay Whitby, Wyoming, Del.||74|
|(a) Logan Fuglestad, Newtown, Pa.||75|
|(a) Chris Lange, Jr., Bryn Mawr, Pa.||75|
|Bradley Lankler, Westfield, N.J.||75|
|(a) Shawn Lavin, Drexel Hill, Pa.||75|
|David Martin, Portsmouth, Va.||75|
|Justin Martinson, Avondale, Pa.||75|
|(a) Marty McGuckin, Valley Forge, Pa.||75|
|(a) Brendan Peel, Potomac, Md.||75|
|Andrew Turner, Lititz, Pa.||75|
|(a) Bobby Weise, Freehold, N.J.||75|
|Jonathan Faw, Virginia Beach, Va.||76|
|Jason Hartline, Easton, Pa.||76|
|(a) Matthew Pulgini, Wilmington, Del.||76|
|(a) Ryan Rucinski, Wilmington, Del.||76|
|(a) John Spina, Schwenksville, Pa.||76|
|Rob Coyne, West Chester, Pa.||77|
|Tommy Ellison, Bear, Del.||77|
|(a) Matt Kristick, Berlin, Md.||77|
|(a) Matthew Smith, Yorklyn, Del.||77|
|(a) Michael Winter, Hamilton, N.J.||77|
|(a) Peter Bradbeer, Rosemont, Pa.||78|
|Aaron Burton, Wilmington, Del.||78|
|Brice Busse, Rockville, Md.||78|
|(a) Dwight D’Iorio, Media, Pa.||78|
|Eric Figueroa, Chadds Ford, Pa.||78|
|David Pagett, Oreland, Pa.||78|
|(a) Griffin Smith, Holland, Pa.||78|
|Matt Summers, Abingdon, Md.||78|
|(a) Jeffrey Cunningham, West Palm Beach, Fla.||79|
|(a) Daniel Gianniny, Rochester, N.Y.||79|
|(a) Ronald Robinson, Hatfield, Pa.||79|
|(a) Brian Zinman, Center Valley, Pa.||79|
|(a) Nikita Romanov, Wilmington, Del.||80|
|(a) Reed Winkler, Wilmington, Del.||80|
|(a) Alexander Kim, Blue Bell, Pa.||81|
|(a) Kyle Pritchard, Northampton, Pa.||81|
|Ralph Alfieri, Ridgewood, N.J.||82|
|Anthony Napoletano, Springfield, Pa.||82|
|Michael Wheeler, Reading, Pa.||82|
|(a) Patrick Isztwan, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.||83|
|(a) Cyrus Whitney, Oro Valley, Ariz.||83|
|(a) Matt Brainard, Hockessin, Del.||84|
|(a) Richard Kline, Kennett Square, Pa.||85|
|(a) J.H. Park, Blue Bell, Pa.||86|
|(a) Charles Young II, Woodstock, Md.||88|
|Andrew Barbin, Jr., Elkton, Md.||90|
|(a) Scott Cahayla, Wilmington, Del.||92|
|(a) Mark Wachter, Wilmington, Del.||DQ|
|(a) Christopher Ault, Yardley, Pa.||WD|
|(a) Christopher Baloga, Baltimore, Md.||WD|
|(a) Patrick Cover, Cornelius, N.C.||WD|
|(a) Drew Petri, New Hope, Pa.||WD|
|(a) Tyler Stahle, Andover, MA||WD|
|*-determined in playoff; (a)-denotes amateur|