USGA Public Links qualifying has local flavor

When it comes to Monday’s qualifying round for next month’s 81st United States Golf Association’s Amateur Public Links Championship, Gold Mountain General Manager Scott Alexander had just one bit of advice – “Play well.”

That’s about all Alexander or anyone else can say to the 121 golfers who will vie for just three spots in the July 10-15 championship that will be played on Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course.

Qualifying for the national tourney began in earnest June 10 and will continue across the country until June 27. In all, 73 sites will be used to pare more than 6,000 amateur golfers down to the 156 that will actually qualify for the championship.

And the field of 121 that will play Monday, which includes 11 golfers from Kitsap County, will get a sneak peek at what the Olympic Course might look like come July.

“I would imagine that (the course) will be about 70 percent ready,” Alexander said. “It still has a ways to go, but it’s getting there.”

Alexander said Monday’s 36-hole qualifying round will not be played from the very tips like it will in July and the rough is nowhere as long or thick as it will be in a month. But the par-72 course will still play longer than the 7,073 yards listed on the score card from the gold tees.

But those who have played Olympic in the past will notice some subtle changes already in effect. The fairways have been narrowed and the rough has been grown up in spots.

The course is playing fairly hard and fast and conditions should be good as far as scoring goes. Which might give the locals a bit of an advantage.

And there will be a few locals with some very good knowledge out and about on Monday.

Four golfers from Port Orchard, including Bjorn Bjorke, Jim Gale, Samuel McCracken and John Lefotu, will join Michael Degarimore, Scott Fenske and John Sitton and Michael Burns of Bremerton, Stephen Duwe and Yolchiro Shuin of Kingston and Silverdale’s Michael Caldwell.

Alexander said he wasn’t so much concerned about the number of local players playing in Monday’s qualifier or if they qualify. He’s thinking more about the quality of the field as a whole.

“I’m hoping for the absolute best players (to qualify),” he said. “Everyone that comes into this does so with a realistic goal, you have to do that.”

All 121 golfers will play a morning round of 18 holes, after-which the field will be cut to around 30 or so with the USGA deciding what that cut-line will be.

Alexander said he feels like the lowest 30 players or everyone within eight strokes of the leader will advance to the second round of 18.

Others from around the Sound that are playing Monday include University of Washington men’s golf coach Matt Thurmond, who is bringing a couple of recruits from Singapore with him, and Andrew Yun and T.J. Bordeaux, two well-known players out of Tacoma.

The USGA Public Links is open to any amateur that is not a member of a private golf club and carries a UGSA handicap of 8.4 or lower.

The first twosome of the day tees of at 6:30 a.m. while the final pairing goes off at 12:30 p.m. The day’s second round should begin around 3 p.m.

Admission to the qualifying round is free.

What: U.S. Amateur Public Links Qualifying

When: Monday June 19

Where: Olympic Course, Gold Mountain Golf Club, Bremerton.

Who: 121 golfers who do not have regular access to a private course.

What’s at stake: Three spots in the July 10-15 USGA Amateur Public Links Championship

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