Oakmont a success for five qualifiers

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Having just finished competing in the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma as a member of the Arizona State University men's golf team, Scott Pinckney quickly shifted his focus to something he had long sought to accomplish — qualifying for the prestigious U.S. Open.

It's been a busy last week for the senior, but patience and a consistent short game helped him achieve his goal.

Pinckney shot a two-round score of 137 to tie for first with Matthew Edwards on Monday in a sectional qualifying round for the major championship at fabled Oakmont Country Club.

The 111th rendition of the U.S. Open, one of four majors and one of 13 championships conducted by the United States Golf Assn., will be held June 16-19 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

For Pinckney, it will be his first appearance in the championship after he registered 21 pars and 10 birdies on the 6,861-yard course.

"It's a dream come true and it still hasn't hit me," said Pinckney, who carded a four-under-par 67 in his first round before recording a 70 in the final round in front of his grandparents, former Glendale residents and Hoover High graduates Jennifer and Ed Hagen. "The course was in great shape and I was hitting the ball great.

"It was just about being able to get in a rhythm and making some putts by staying patient."

Five qualifiers and two alternates from the field of 93 advanced to the U.S. Open.

Also qualifying were Steve Irwin, the son of three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin, 16-year-old Beau Hossler and Brian Locke. Locke snagged the last spot in a playoff that went three holes shortly after darkness fell when he made a birdie on the 16th hole. The alternates will be Jeffrey Roth and Grant Rappleye, who shot a course-record 65 during his second round. Irwin and Hossler each shot 138s, while Roth carded a 139. Rappleye also had a 139.

Roth became the first alternate after he parred the final playoff hole. Rappleye became the second alternate after he parred the second playoff hole after Locke and Roth each birdied.

The event had two local ties in La Crescenta resident Brett Kanda and Brennan Amirkhizi, who recently finished his two-year stint as a member of the Glendale Community College men's program.

Kanda, a Flintridge Prep and UNLV graduate who turned pro last year and has been on the Canadian Tour since February, finished tied for 10th with a 141. Amirkhizi, who helped the Vaqueros qualify for the state tournament for the first time in the program's history, carded a 153 to tie for 69th.

Edwards, a pro, rolled up 20 pars and 11 birdies.

Irwin said he's served as a caddy for his father four or five times at the U.S. Open. Now, he'll have an opportunity to walk the course as a contestant.

"There's a lot of emphasis on this tournament in my family," said Irwin, who shot a 67 in his first round to put him in a four-way tie for first place with Pinckney, Edwards and Hossler. "This is rather special for me to be able to go and compete.

"In my first round, everything just seemed to click and I played fairly solid in the second round. My putter was the all-star and it came through for me big time."

Hossler, a sophomore at Santa Margarita High in Rancho Santa Margarita, appeared poised throughout both of his rounds. He said he wasn't fazed by competing against people more than twice his age.

"I felt confident out there and I've been in different qualifiers before," said Hossler, who will take his final exams this week before heading to the U.S. Open. "I hit my driver good and the fairways and greens were firm.

"It's going to be great playing in the U.S. Open. It's a pretty good feeling."

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