Grégory Bourdy, of France, qualified for his second US Open Championship by earning medalist honors in a sectional qualifier on Monday, May 30 at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England.
Bourdy, 34, posted a 36-hole total of nine-under-par 135 on the par-72 Old and New courses to finish two strokes ahead of Mikael Lundberg, of Sweden.
A field of 97 golfers – 95 professionals and two amateurs – competed for 13 qualifying spots in this year’s championship at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club June 16-19. The qualifier, which was conducted by the European Tour on behalf of the USGA, was the second and final international sectional qualifier. On May 23, four golfers advanced from a sectional in Japan. Ten more sectional qualifiers will take place on Monday, June 6 at 10 sites in the United States.
“It’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world and one of the most difficult usually, so it’s a big challenge, but I like it when it’s tough and it’s great to be there for sure,” said Bourdy, a four-time European Tour winner who missed the cut in 2012 at The Olympic Club in his only U.S. Open start.
Bourdy had hinted at having rediscovered his best form with a strong finish in Ireland (T-10 at Dubai Duty Free Irish Open) and his tie for 15th at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in the last two weeks. He opened with a five-under 67 on the New Course in the morning and continued his fine form with a 68 on the Old Course in the afternoon.
“I feel very good with my game right now,” said Bourdy. “The last few weeks have been good, I played solid, and I’ve got a lot of confidence, with some good tournaments coming up too.
“It’s always really difficult in the US Open. I don’t know Oakmont, I’ve never been there, but I’m looking forward to getting there, practicing and trying to do my best.”
Lundberg, a three-time European Tour winner, will make his major-championship debut after finishing at seven-under 137 in the cold and blustery conditions.
“It feels fantastic,” said the 42-year-old Lundberg, whose last European Tour win came two years ago at the Lyoness Open in Austria. “It’s the first time I’ve ever even tried to qualify and I made it. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine, to play just one [major], and I was talking to my caddie and saying we might even do a Michael Campbell and win, you never know.”
Campbell, of New Zealand, won the 2005 US Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2 after qualifying at Walton Heath. It was the first year that the USGA instituted international sectional qualifying.
“Oakmont for sure will be a step up, a much tougher test, but that’s perfect and I’ll love it,” added Lundberg. “I can’t wait to get there and I’ll go there, enjoy the week and just see what happens.”
Lee Slattery, 38, of England posted a pair of 69s for a 6-under total of 138 to earn his second US Open start. Slattery missed the cut in the 2012 championship at The Olympic Club. That is the same venue where fellow Englishman Matthew Baldwin tied for 59th. Baldwin, 30, was one of five golfers to shoot four-under 140.
Two of Bourdy’s compatriots, Gary Stal and Romain Wattel, also came in at four-under 140, along with former Oklahoma State standout Alex Noren, of Sweden. Noren will be making his fourth U.S. Open start, with his best finish a tie for 51st at Congressional Country Club in 2011.
Englishman Andrew Johnston delighted local crowds by clinching a spot in what will be his first event in the United States. The 27-year-old, who posted three-under 141, will hope to continue the momentum he gained by his first European Tour title last month in Spain and a top-10 finish in his home event, the BMW PGA Championship, this past weekend.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” said Johnston. “I’ve been watching it for 20 years, so it’s exciting. I’ve only played one major championship before, and I’ve never played in America at all so I’m looking forward to it.”
Also finishing at three-under 141 were past Ryder Cup hero Peter Hanson, of Sweden, and Matteo Manassero, 23, of Italy. Hanson, who has battled through injuries in recent years, tied for seventh in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional. This will be his eighth U.S. Open start. Manassero, who won the 2009 Amateur Championship conducted by The R&A and tied for 12th in that year’s Open Championship, is set to make his fourth U.S. Open start.
“It’s great to be back playing the majors,” said Hanson, who tied for 30th the last time the U.S. Open was contested at Oakmont in 2007. “They’re the ones you miss the most when you’re injured, and I feel my game is heading back in the right direction.
“I’ve been to Oakmont before so I know what kind of a challenge it is and it will be a tough one – it’s got beautiful greens and you really need to bring your best game there.”
A five-for-three playoff was needed to determine the last three qualifiers. Maximilian Kieffer, of Germany, holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole and Soren Hansen, of Denmark, birdied the second hole, where Johan Edfors’ bogey dropped him from the running.
That left Jeev Milka Singh, of India, and Sebastian Soderberg, of Sweden, to vie for the final spot, a battle that took five holes before Soderberg, a former Big South Conference Player of the Year at Coastal Carolina, made a birdie. Singh earned first-alternate status and Edfors is the second alternate.
Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, of Ireland, bogeyed his final two holes to miss the playoff by a stroke.
“We knew what the story was,” said Harrington, “and it was disappointing to end like that.” It was the second consecutive year that Harrington bogeyed his final hole to miss out on the playoff.