Monday is a big day for at least nine golfers with ties to the Greater Cedar Rapids Open.
U.S. Open Sectional qualifying – a 36-hole, one-day marathon – will take place at 11 sites around the country Monday with berths in the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco on the line.
Four past GRCO champions, including two-time winner Derek Lamely will be vying for a trip to San Francisco later this month.
Sean McCarty, the 2009 GCRO champion and head pro at Brown Deer Golf Course in Coralville, is heading to Springfield, Ohio, for his sectional tournament. McCarty qualified for the U.S. Open in 2003 at Olympia Fields Country Club in suburban Chicago. He shot an 8-over-par 78 on the opening day, but came roaring back with a 1-under 69 in the second round. His 147 total failed to make the cut, which was 143.
McCarty, who won the Open Local qualifier at Davenport Country Club last month, explained a golfer is asked to list his three top choices of where to play should he advance to the sectional. He says he always chooses Columbus, Ohio, because of the number of qualifying spots allotted to that sectional. Many of the touring pros who have not qualified for the Open will either play at Columbus, where this weekend's PGA stop is the Memorial Tournament, or in Memphis, Tenn., where next weekend's St. Jude Classic will be held.
McCarty said he's not sure how many qualifiers will come out of Springfield, but it's sure to be a slim number, maybe as low as two or three. With that, his strategy is simple.
"My thoughts going into the qualifier and especially with only a couple of spots open is to be aggressive and take it as low as you can," he said in an e-mail.
McCarty, who also has two seconds and a third at the GCRO, where fans love to see his big drives, has advanced to five U.S. Open Sectionals. He won't be alone in Springfield as far as golfers with GCRO ties. Andy Winings, the 2010 GCRO champ, is also in the field there.
Another local favorite with several Top 10 GCRO finishes under his belt is Bill Hoefle of Marion. Hoefle, who competed with McCarty in Davenport and finished third, will travel to the Village Links of Glen Ellyn in suburban Chicago for his sectional fray.
Among those with GCRO ties headed to Columbus are PGA Tour player George McNeill and Judd Cornell of Omaha, Neb. Cornell finished fourth in last year's GCRO. Among other touring pros at Columbus will be Tommy Gainey, Chris DeMarco, Rocco Mediate, Steve Marino, Davis Love III and recent tour winner Ben Curtis.
Gary Christian, the 2004 GCRO winner, along with 2012 GCRO competitor Andrew Steinhofer of Madison, Wis., will try to make their way out of the Rockville, Md., qualifier.
Greg O'Mahony, the 2010 GCRO runner-up, will test his mettle at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Fla.
Lamely will be among those touring pros taking their shot at Germantown Country Club in Memphis. Generally about 750 golfers from across the country make it to the sectional competition looking for one of the 156 or so spots in our national championship.
Good luck to all those who made the GCRO and Hunters Ridge Golf Course one of the stops in their careers.
Don Wojciechowski resides in the Hunters Ridge Golf Course community and plays the course on a regular basis. He's a former sports editor for a suburban Chicago daily newspaper and an avid golf fan.