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U.S. Open Qualifying

Free pars!: U.S. Open local qualifier cut to 17 holes due to irrigation pipe burst

With U.S. Open local qualifying taking place all over the country this month, stories of odd golf happenings continue to roll in. Earlier this week, there was Tommy Kuhl shooting a course record on aerated greens in Illinois, then DQing himself, captured the golf world's collective attention.

Just two days later, another strange occurrence took place at a local qualifier at Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pa. On Tuesday night, an irrigation pipe underneath the par-5 seventh hole burst, leaving the putting surface unplayable. Suffice to say, it was absolutely horrible timing with the course set to host 108 U.S. Open hopefuls on Thursday.

What happened next was the stuff weekend hackers’ dreams are made of—free pars! Here's the note from the game story on gapgolf.org:

"Competitors only played a 17-hole course. An irrigation pipe underneath the seventh green (par 5, 515 yards) burst on Tuesday night, leaving the putting surface unplayable. GAP’s tournament staff talked with USGA officials and it was recommended to have players skip the hole and award a par to all competitors for scoring purposes to have an 18-hole event."

Clearly, this was a necessary evil; according to the USGA, an area of about 15 feet by 15 feet was patched with sod, but sod bubbles and depressions where the water moved the soil under the turf were too much to overcome. Kirby V. Martin, Director of Competitions for the Golf Association of Philadelphia, consulted with the USGA and skipping the hole seemed the best solution given the two-tee start and the size of the field preventing officials from having golfers play one hole a second time. Still, free pars are usually reserved for when you and a friend play through a group in front of you, hack up the hole due to the pressure, then jump to the next one and say "let's just take pars there, shall we?"

While you could argue until your blue in the face about whether or not some players may have made birdies and others bogeys on the par-5 seventh, ultimately altering the results, this was the only fair way to handle the situation. They all played the same 17 holes and it's not like they can just reschedule these qualifiers or move them to a new venue on a whim. Just an unfortunate deal that the GAP and USGA handled the only way they could.

It was a fortunate break, though, for the six qualifiers, one of whom, Patrick Cover, is a Korn Ferry Tour player. Cover's three-under 67 featured four birdies, one bogey and 13* pars. Amateur Mitchell Griffin matched cover's 67 to earn co-medalist honors, his round highlighted by a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th at Rolling Green.

As for Pennsylvania's Carey Bina, who shot a 70 to miss out on one of the top six qualifying spots by one stroke, he'll be left to wonder if a birdie or an eagle on the par-5 seventh would have been enough to get him one step closer to Los Angeles Country Club.