Date: June 04, 2013
Author: Martin Blake / Golf Australia

Australia�s US Open group swells to nine

A healthy batch of nine Australian men have found their way into the field for the season s second major championship, the United States Open at Merion in Pennsylvania next week. Masters winner Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, John Senden, Marcus Fraser and Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open winner, were already qualified, and they were joined by three others today. Aaron Baddeley, Mathew Goggin and Alistair Presnell all made their way into the field through the 36-hole regional qualifying held at 11 different courses around the USA today. Australia s hopes will be high after Scott s triumph at Augusta National in April, the first-ever Masters win by an Australian, which spawned a string of wins by his countrymen in the weeks afterward in various parts of the world. Scott was tied-13th at the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village last weekend and his momentum has held firm. His peerless driving should be suited to Merion and a US Open set-up, where the organisers tend to protect par. Ogilvy s form has been disappointing by his high standards, with just one strong finish, a second at the Honda Classic, in 13 starts on tour, and a string of missed cuts. His world ranking, once in the top 10, has dropped to 75. But he has a 10-year exemption to play the US Open as a result of his win at Winged Foot in 2006, where the Melburnian made par at the last after his tee shot ended in a divot and his approach spun back off the green, left him feeling he would run second. He would then watch in near-disbelief with his wife Juli from the clubhouse as first Colin Montgomerie, and then Phil Mickelson, would utterly botch the final hole. Suddenly Ogilvy s five-over-par total was good enough. The score to par seems ludicrous, but this is often the nature of the US Open, where the United States Golf Association sets the courses up with wicked intent, and players are required to grind out a score. Only on rare occasions, such as Rory McIlroy s 16-under romp at Congressional in 2011, or Tiger Woods walk in the park at Pebble Beach in 2000, is such a batch of red numbers possible. One-over-par was good enough for Webb Simpson to win last year at Olympic Club. The Australians also have an omen from history on their side. David Graham won the US Open the last time it was played at Merion, in 1981, with a superb final round. Graham went on to become of of this country s finest golfers, logging two majors. Baddeley needed to thread his way through an 11-way playoff for seven spots in the qualifying at Columbus, Ohio, today, but the Victorian birdied the first extra hole to reach his eighth US Open. Baddeley, who has had a solid year on the US PGA Tour, bobbed up in the final group of the 2007 US Open, playing with Tiger Woods but fading badly. “I played really solid today and I am really excited,” Baddeley told AAP. I love US Open-type golf where pars mean something so I am now really looking forward to getting to Merion.” Goggin, who has been playing on the secondary tour in the US, finished tied-fifth to take one of the nine spots available in the qualifying at Rockville, Maryland. “I&aposm excited about going to Merion, he told AAP. I have heard so many things about it. It&aposs an awesome golf course with so much history so to play any round there is going to be great let alone a US Open. Victorian Presnell, having his rookie season on the main tour, got through a playoff for the second straight year. He made his US Open debut last year at Olympic Club, performing well. “To come out here and qualify for Merion is a dream come true,” Presnell told AAP. “I&aposm pumped. It&aposs been a rough last couple of months but having a few weeks off and stressing less has obviously helped.