Every spring, thousands of good golfers from all walks of life—college players, club pros, regular amateurs and Tour players without automatic berths—attempt to earn a spot in the upcoming U.S. Open through local and final qualifying events. These tournaments are some of the toughest and most nerve-racking in the game, but also among the most exciting: everyone has the same shot at glory if they can find lightning in a bottle and play well enough at the right time.

There were 65 U.S. Open spots up for grabs through qualifying in 2022, and we followed four of the 8,880 hopefuls as they prepped for and played in their Final Stage events at different locations throughout the U.S. These are their stories.