News & ToursMay 9, 2019

16-year-old shoots 61 to win U.S. Open qualifier by six shots

Teenagers are routinely guilty of doing doughnuts when receiving their driver's license. But rather than tearing up a parking lot or front lawn, Robert Keilch pulled the maneuver on a U.S. Open qualifier field.

Keilch, a 16-year-old sophomore at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., shot a nine-under 61 to win an Irvine, Calif. local qualifier by six shots.

“I putted really well," Keilch said. "But the best thing was my driving. I hit 14 of 14 fairways which gave me the best opportunities to go at the pins.”

Keilch had nine birdies, one eagle and two bogeys at his round at Oak Creek G.C. in Irvine, Calif., the eagle coming via hole-out on a 370-yard par 4.

The 61 was a course record, and bests Keilch' previous low round by three shots.

“This tells me that when I put myself in good positions off the tee and make putts that I can play as well as anyone in the field,” he said.

Keilch was one of five qualifiers to advance, and is scheduled to play in the Newport Beach, Calif., sectional on June 3. Should he get through this stage, he would be one of the youngest to play at the national event. The player who holds the title as youngest ever is Andy Zhang, who was 14 when he played in the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco.

The 2019 U.S. Open begins on June 13 at Pebble Beach, the sixth time the course has served as tournament host. Brooks Koepka is the defending champ.

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