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U.S. Open 2023: 13 potential Cinderella stories to watch for at Final Qualifying

U.S. Open Trophy

J.D. Cuban

The U.S. Open’s identity is largely tied to, well, being “Open.” The USGA proudly holds nearly half the spots in the 156-man field for amateurs and pros earning their spots through 36-hole Final Qualifying, making it the most “democratic” of men’s major championships.

Three of the 13 Final Qualifying tournaments have already taken place, with the remainder scheduled for Monday at nine sites in the U.S. and one in Canada in what the governing body has lovingly dubbed “Golf’s Longest Day.”

In preparation for players earning their chance to compete at Los Angeles Country Club in less than two weeks, here are some golfers to keep an eye on as they could be the next class of “Cinderella” stories playing their way into

Ludvig Aberg


Octavio Passos

Final qualifier: Lambton G.& C.C., Toronto
The 23-year-old Swede will be playing his first official rounds as an amateur when he competes at Lambton G. & C.C. in Toronto after a decorated college career at Texas Tech concluded with Aberg winning all three major national player-of-year awards. By finishing the college season No. 1 in the PGA Tour University, he earned a PGA Tour card for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, and will be making his pro debut later this week at the RBC Canadian Open.

Tegan Andrews

Final qualifier: Brookside G&CC and The Lakes G&CC, Columbus, Ohio
The 21-year-old from Agoura Hills, Calif., claimed the one spot in the local qualifier held in Palmer, Alaska. The only reason CSU-Fullerton golfer was playing there was he waited too long to file his entry to get into any of the Southern California local qualifiers. He shot a 72 in 50-degree weather with strong winds and was three strokes clear of the 16-player field. His grandfather, Gene, was a two-time USGA champion who competed in three U.S. Opens and was a member of the 1961 USA Walker Cup Team.

Michael Block


Kevin C. Cox

Final qualifier: Lambton G.& C.C., Toronto
Most golf fans had no idea who the 46-year-old from Mission Viejo, Calif., until last month when he was the Cinderella story of the PGA Championship, finishing tied for 15th at Oak Hill. Many golf fans then wondered if they knew too much about the teaching professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club after the dozen of media appearances he made the next week ahead of the playing in the PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge (where he finished last). Block now tries to qualify for his third career start in a U.S. Open, after playing his way into the championship in 2007 and 2018.

Dylan Block

Final qualifier: Hillcrest C.C., Los Angeles
Michael Block’s son just might be … wait for it … a chip off the old Block. The 18-year-old high schooler worked his way through local qualifying and a recent video showed him hitting ball speeds of 198 miles per hour. The Block party could be twice the size at LACC.

Stewart Cink

Final qualifier: Brookside G&CC and The Lakes G&CC, Columbus, Ohio
Calling an eight-time PGA Tour who has played in 23 U.S. Opens a Cinderella might be a stretch, but what a story it would be if he could pull off qualifying for a 24th Open. In 2003, he set the U.S. Open final qualifying 36-hole scoring mark with rounds of 62 and 61 in Columbus, Ohio.

Raymond Floyd Jr.

Final qualifier: Canoe Brook Country Club, Summit, N.J.
The son of the World Golf Hall of Famer, now 48 and living in Tunbridge, Vt., has played in 11 USGA championships.

Tom Gardner

Final qualifier: Hillcrest C.C., Los Angeles
Since 2015, Gardner has been the director of golf at Los Angeles Country Club after also being an assistant pro at Bel-Air Country Club in L.A.

Ian Gilligan

Final qualifier: Hillcrest C.C., Los Angeles
The 20-year-old sophomore at Long Beach State was the Big West player of the year this past season. At age 15, he battled anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, going through seven rounds of chemotherapy.

Stewart Hagestad

Final qualifier: Canoe Brook Country Club, Summit, N.J.
A two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, Hagestad has played in four U.S. Opens, but is anxiously hoping to make it five since he’s a member at LACC and once shot a 59 at the course.


Carson Herron

Final qualifier: Brookside G&CC and The Lakes G&CC, Columbus, Ohio
A sophomore at New Mexico and a Minnesota native, the 20-year-old is the son of tour pro Tim Herron and would be the fourth generation golfer from his family to play in the U.S. Open if he qualified. His grandfather, Carson, and great-grandfather, Clee, competed in 1963 and 1934, respectively, while Tim played in 11 U.S. Opens, with his best finish a tie for sixth in 1999.

Spencer Levin


Mike Mulholland

Final qualifier: Old Chatham Golf Club, Durham, N.C.
It’s already been a turn-back-the-clock season for the 37-year-old Californian, won the Korn Ferry Tour’s Veritex Bank Championship in April and is on track to return to the PGA Tour, then advanced through U.S. Open local qualifying nine days later. He qualified for his fourth U.S. Open through the Columbus, Ohio, final stage in 2016 and went on to tie for 65th at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. His best Open finish was in 2004, when he tied for 13th and was low amateur at Shinnecock Hills.

Jaden Soong

Final qualifier: Hillcrest C.C., Los Angeles
A 13-year-old seventh grader from Burbank, Calif., Soong is trying to becoming the youngest player in the LACC field. He shot even-par 72 in his local qualifying and survived a 3-for-2 playoff at Brentwood Country Club by making a 12-foot putt to earn one of five spots. He will attempt to qualify for his first U.S. Junior Amateur on June 22.

Ryan Wilkins

Final qualifier: Hawks Ridge Golf Club, Ball Ground, Ga.
The 32-year-old from Woodstock, Ga., emerged from an 8-for-1 playoff for the last spot in the Kennesaw, Ga., local qualifier in April. Wilkins, was a pitcher on North Carolina State’s 2013 College World Series team who played minor league baseball.