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For ninety nine of the region’s best amateur and professional golfers, the road to Pinehurst Resort and the 114th United States Open began today, May 12th, at the Country Club of Farmington in Farmington, Conn. A total of five qualifying spots were available, with successful qualifiers advancing to U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying on Monday, June 2nd at one of ten sites around the country.
Bright sunshine and slick greens greeted the players who made their way around one of Connecticut’s oldest and most historic golf courses. Founded in 1894, the present layout at the Country Club of Farmington was designed by Devereux Emmet. Although it plays a mere 6,426 yards from the Championship Tees, the course makes up for the lack in yardage with a set of green complexes that are among the smallest and most undulating in the state. In addition to hosting this year's U.S. Open Local Qualifying, the CC of Farmington has previously hosted the Connecticut Open Championship in 1963 and the Connecticut Amateur Championship in 1996 and 2002.
Setting the pace for the day was Clark Robinson, who claimed medalist honors with a stellar round of five under-par round of 66. After making the turn in 31, Robinson birdied the par-5 10th hole to move to six under-par, and was in jeopardy of breaking the competitive course record of 64 set by Joe Choi (1990) and Scott Farrell (2007). Although he would go on to make seven par’s and a lone bogey on #16, his round of 66 was three clear of the next closest competitor. Robinson is no stranger to low rounds in qualifiers, having claimed medalist honors at last year’s Connecticut Amateur Qualifier at Madison Country Club by six shots with a round of 65 (-5).
Among those advancing at two under-par 69 included a pair of past CSGA Major Champions in Jeff Curl (Birmingham, Alabama) and John VanDerLaan (Southbury, Conn.), pictured right. Curl captured the Connecticut Open Championship last year at Torrington Country Club, making it his second Open Championship title (2007) in just six years. VanDerLaan, a senior at Pomperaug High School, won the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship in 2012, becoming just the fifth player in the history of the event to win both Medalist and Match Play honors. He will be attending Florida Southern College this Fall to play Division II collegiate golf.
Also advancing was Christopher Wiatr of Woodbury, Conn., a rising senior on the Division I collegiate golf team at the University of Connecticut, who shot 34-35—69 (-2) to finish in a tie for second. Corey Harris of Washington, Conn., the Head Professional at the Washington Club, claimed the fifth and final spot with a round of 36-34--70 (-1).
All five successful qualifiers will advance to Sectional Qualifying, which is conducted at ten sites around the country, as well as two international sites. The national Sectional Qualifiers take place on Monday, June 2nd, where competitors will play 36 holes for a spot to compete at the 2014 U.S. Open Championship, being held June 12th-15th at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Local Qualifying- 114th United States Open Championship
Monday, May 12th, 2014 - Country Club of Farmington
Par 71 (36-35) -- 6,425 yards
1) Clark Robinson (a), South Windsor, Conn. – 31-35--66 (-5)
T2) Christopher Wiatr (a), Woodbury, Conn. – 34-35--69 (-2)'
T2) John VanDerLaan (a), Southbury, Conn. – 35-34--69 (-2)
T2) Jeff Curl, Birmingham, Alabama – 33-36--69 (-2)
5) Corey Harris, Washington, Conn. – 36-34--70 (-1)
1st Alternate- Blake Morris (a), Waterbury, Conn. - 35-36--71 (Even)
2nd Alternate- Kyle Gallo, Kensington, Conn. - 36-35--71 (Even)
About the CSGA
U.S. Open Local Qualifying is one of eight USGA Championship qualifiers that will be conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association in 2013. The CSGA functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country’s oldest state golf association and conducts over 50 Championships, Qualifiers and One-Day Tournaments throughout the year. For more information, visit our website at csgalinks.org.