Carlo Borunda already has a leg up on this year's U.S. Open sectional qualifying tournament.
Borunda, a Newport Beach Country Club assistant pro, has played two practice rounds at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, where 94 golfers will be playing 36 holes Monday for four spots into the U.S. Open. Estancia High junior Jake Knapp and former UC Irvine golfers John Chin and Max Greil will join Borunda in the field. Mike Lavery, who played for the 'Eaters from 1999-2003, plays in the sectional qualifier Monday at The Lakes Golf & Country Club in Westerville, Ohio, just outside of Columbus.
Oakmont will host one of 11 sectional qualifiers across the U.S., the final leg toward the national championship, held June 16-19 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.
Borunda, 38, reached this level before. In 2008, Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City hosted a sectional qualifier and Borunda said the course at the time didn't fit his game.
Borunda said his ball flight was almost exclusively a fade then. Now, he's working on hitting a draw.
"I'm much stronger," Borunda said of his overall game. "I needed to draw the ball at [Lake Merced]. There were four holes that because I couldn't turn the ball over [were difficult]."
Borunda first tried reaching the U.S. Open in 2007 and learned fairly quickly the importance of managing himself and putting in the work.
He said the plan for this week was getting in as many practice balls between lessons and duties in the golf shop.
"It's different than being a tournament player where you're always in the flow," he said.
The opportune practice window for Borunda comes from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. during these days of lengthier light.
"My caddie waits for my call," Borunda said of Mike Gutman, an NBCC member. "He'll help with my confidence."
Borunda had the benefit of playing Newport in the local qualifying round. His three-under-par 68 included six birdies. He birdied all three par-5s.
Knapp also advanced from the local qualifier at Newport with a 69.
Besides himself, Borunda said making it into the 156-golfer field at Congressional would please Newport's members.
"[They] are supportive and generous with me trying to qualify. I know how much it would mean to them."
The Jones Cup could be heading into unchartered territory.
The annual competition of Newport-Mesa's four country clubs has ladies club champions, but one team might have an additional woman in its lineup for this year's tournament June 28 at Big Canyon Country Club.
One of the two professional spots for the five-golfer team has yet to be decided in Mesa Verde Country Club's case.
Mesa Verde head pro Tom Sargent, in a phone call last week, said Lehua Wise, who has been at the club since January, could tee it up for the two-time defending champions. Assistant pro Mike Fergin, part of last year's winning team, is the other candidate. Sargent will play in the 12th annual tournament.
Mesa Verde's three amateur spots are set: ladies club champion Sally Holstein, senior champion Tom McGreevy and men's champion Brad Miller. Miller won his first Mesa Verde men's championship by five shots with a three-over 216 (73-72-71) through 54 holes.
Scoring for the Jones Cup uses the two best balls per hole from each fivesome from Mesa Verde, Big Canyon, Newport Beach and Santa Ana country clubs. Tee off is 1 p.m.
Besides the Mesa Verde professional spot, the only remaining spot to be determined is Newport Beach's men's club champion.
Here are the current lists of teams:
Big Canyon: Head professional Robert Pang, assistant pro Mike Castillo, women's champion Olivia Slutzky, men's champion Mike Carpenter, senior champion Gary Singer.
Mesa Verde: Sargent, women's champion Sally Holstein, men's champion Miller, senior champion McGreevy.
Newport Beach: Head pro Paul Hahn, assistant pro Rich Ortega, Debbie Fleming [alternate for women's champion Isako Takada], senior champion Bob Kraft.
Santa Ana: Head pro Geoff Cochrane, assistant pro Nick Kumpis, women's champion Liz Slater, men's champion John Gilchrist, senior champion Bob Veeh.
Big Canyon has won the Jones Cup six times, while Mesa Verde has four titles.