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Seven Players Advance at 116th U.S. Open Qualifying

Tournament Links: Final Results

For one hundred-twenty of the region’s best amateur and professional golfers, the road to Oakmont and the 116th United States Open began today, May 16th, at New Haven Country Club in Hamden, Conn. A total of seven qualifying spots were available, with successful qualifiers advancing to U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying on Monday, June 6th at one of twelve sites around the country.

Bright sunshine and winds that gusted to near 40 mph challenged the players who made their way around one of Connecticut’s oldest and most storied clubs. The course was originally designed by Robert D. Pryde in 1898, who was also the Golf Professional and Greenskeeper at the club. After New Haven Country Club, he would go on to design a total of seven courses in Connecticut, including Wethersfield Country Club, host of the Travelers Championship for thirty-one years. The present layout was designed by renowned architect Willie Park in 1922 and measures 6,560 yards from the Championship tees.

Leading the way was Blake Morris of Waterbury, Conn., who fired a round of even-par 70 to claim medalist honors. Teeing off at 12:10 p.m. in the afternoon, Morris faced some of the worst of the wind and battled back after a slow start. After making back-to-back bogies on holes #5 and 6, he birdied #9, 10 and 18 to secure his spot and medalist honors.

“It was basically a contest of who can make the least amount of bogeys,” Morris said. “When you get it gusting 30 miles per hour hitting it close becomes really, really hard, even if you have a wedge shot. You have to play more conservative.”

Among the players to advance was a pair of familiar faces at New Haven Country Club. Evan Beirne of North Haven, Connecticut and William Street of New Haven, Connecticut both shot rounds of one over-par 71 to secure a spot in Sectional Qualifying. Beirne, the 2010 Russell C.Palmer Cup Champion and past Club Champion at New HAven CC, holds the course record with an amazing round of 58 which he shot in 2010. Beirne’s round of two birdies and three bogies diuring the qualifier was almost as impressive given the difficult conditions he faced throughout the afternoon. 

“This is as tough as I’ve ever seen this course play,” said Beirne. “Growing up here as a kid I felt like I had an advantage knowing the course so well, but there was some added pressure as well. I’ve made it once before but it feels great to qualify here.”

Street, who is currently the Head Professional at Whitney Farms Golf Course in Monroe, Conn., was Assistant Professional and Membership Director at New Haven Country Club for a total of seven years. After making the turn in one under-par 33, Street suffered a pair of bogies early on the back nine, but was able to finish strong to post a 71 early in the day.

“The goal is always to play the best you can, but with these conditions, the goal was really to try to not make a mistake,” said Street. “I’ve practiced on this putting green [at New Haven CC] so many times and said, ‘this putt is to win the U.S. Open’. It’s everyone’s dream to make it to the U.S. Open and to qualify for Sectionals at a place that’s so special to me makes it that much better.”

Also advancing with rounds of 71 was defending Connecticut Amateur Champion Evan Grenus of Glastonbury, Conn. who made an impressive five birdies on his round, including a clutch birdie on #18, to advance to his first U.S. Open Sectionals. Matt Doyle of West Simsbury, Conn., the Director of Golf at The Dye Preserve, as well as amateurs Stephen Colodny of Westport, Conn. and Daniel Levin of New York, N.Y. rounded out the successful qualifiers. Brian Hughes of Raleigh, N.C. claimed the first alternate position and Cody Paladino of Kensington, Conn. claimed the second alternate position.

A total of 9,877 professional and amateur golfers applied to this year’s U.S. Open, marking the 8th time in history that the USGA accepted more than 9,000 entries. Of the 9,877, 430 were exempt from local qualifying and only 50 were fully exempt into the Championship. 72 foreign countries and all 50 states were represented in the applicant pool. Approximately 1,000 players will advance to sectional qualifying, a 36-hole event where successful qualifiers will advance to the U.S. Open Championship. The closest Section Qualifying site in proximity is Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, New Jersey. All Sectional Qualifying in the US will take place on Monday, June 6th.

About the Connecticut State Golf Association:

Founded in 1899, the Connecticut State Golf Association is the country’s oldest state golf association and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. The CSGA functions as an extension of the USGA and is dedicated to providing golfers a full range of services for the good of the game and golf in Connecticut. The CSGA is comprised of over 42,000 members and 181 member clubs, providing and administering handicaps for all of its members throughout the state.