Other than the fact that A) they all have at least a 1.4 handicap index and B) you've probably never heard of any of them, the participants in a typical U.S. Open local qualifier represent a wide range of backgrounds. At a recent one at Woodway C.C. in Darien, Conn., we met, among others, a high school senior, a 52-year-old real-estate developer, a decorated club pro, a recent college grad and a 27-year-old aspiring pro from Zambia.
This is the ground floor for those who aspire to make it to Chambers Bay in June and don't have the luxury of an exemption into the 36-hole section qualifier -- or in the case of a fortunate few, the Open itself. There will end up being 111 local qualifiers contested across the country by the time the last one is played on Thursday, and they all feature their share of journeymen and upstarts -- from those who feel they belong among the world's best to those merely looking to crash the party for a couple of days.
Here's a look at some of their stories:
Although all the players we spoke to came into the qualifier with similar ambitions, the results among them were decidedly mixed. Only Blake Morris, the 23-year-old recent graduate of Ole Miss, was among the six players who advanced into sectional qualifying by virtue of a one-under-par 70 at Woodway. Rob Labritz, the director of Golf at GlenArbor G.C. in Bedford Hills, N.Y., still has an outside shot as well. He shot two-over 73 and was awarded the second alternate spot in a playoff.
The full results can be seen here.