Accepting a challenge from his agent and employing longtime CBS golf announcer Gary McCord as his caddie, former long-drive champion Jamie Sadlowski proved Monday that there is more to his golf game than stupid amounts of power.
On the strength of seven birdies, Sadlowski shot a five-under 65 and won the U.S. Open local qualifier at The Country Club at DC Ranch in Scottsdale. The native of Alberta, Canada, a two-time winner of the Re/Max Long Drive Championship, is making his first attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open, which this year is being held at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club.
“People figure you hit it a long way you ought to be able to shoot low, but you still have to get it in the hole, and I did that pretty well," Sadlowski, 27, said by phone. “It’s nice to be able to prove that I can do more than hit the ball far.”
Sadlowski, whose longest recorded drive is 445 yards, has played in four Web.com Tour events and made the cut in three, but hadn’t given the U.S. Open a try until his agent, Art Sellinger, another former long-drive champion, challenged him to give a shot. Sadlowski then recruited McCord, whom he plays with frequently at Whisper Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale.
McCord, 67, a former winner on the PGA Tour Champions, joked that when he did his scouting report on DC Ranch, “I had to try to figure out the lines for 400-yard drives.” But Sadlowski hit only three drivers on Monday, relying primarily on his 2-iron, which he can hit around 300 yards. He never hit more than a 5-iron into any green, and that was only on the second shot to a par 5.
“I think he only used seven clubs all day, including his putter,” McCord said with genuine wonder. “If you’ve never played a golf video game, this might be the next closest thing. It was highly entertaining.”
Said Sadlowski: “Having Gary on the bag was huge. We had a great time belting it around, but the big thing was his help with reading the greens. I think I had 11 putts in the first nine holes. I had confidence in the stroke and with what we were seeing together, and I put the ball on line.”
Sadlowski has asked McCord to reprise the role for the 36-hole sectional qualifier. “He said he would because he found out he could take a pull cart,” Sadlowski joked.
He hopes to play in the June 6 Columbus, Ohio, sectional, a site that traditionally awards the most U.S. Open berths because it is heavily attended by PGA Tour players, many whom have competed the previous week at the Memorial. Sadlowski has been invited by Nationwide, a sponsor of the PGA Tour event, to attend an outing during the Memorial, and McCord is broadcasting the tournament as part of CBS Sports' television coverage, so that is the logical destination, though not guaranteed.
Sadlowski said wherever he ends up, he’ll have fun. “I have nothing to prove I just think I have the game to compete in a U.S. Open. I would love that chance.”