The things Lakewood’s RJ Manke will go through just to get a home game.
And the Bellarmine Prep senior played some wonderful, strategic golf Monday to accomplish just that.
It took four sudden death holes, but Manke outlasted Canadian professional Lindsay Bernakevitch to grab the final berth from U.S. Open local qualifying at Canterwood Golf and Country Club in Gig Harbor.
Manke will get to walk through the familiar parking lot at Tacoma Country and Golf Club on June 5 and tee it up on a layout he’s played hundreds of times for a chance to play in the U.S. Open.
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Pacific Northwest Golf Association officials expect 65 golfers to be in the field that week to vie for one of the three available spots.
“I am very excited to get out to Tacoma (C&GC) and see how I play out there,” said Manke, a Pepperdine signee. Hopefully, (course superintendent) Joel (Kachmarek) gets the greens fast and firm, and gets the course playing tough for everyone. It will be great to have that home advantage.”
First, Manke had to navigate one of the most challenging courses in the state at Canterwood — a layout he had played from the tips for the first time Sunday in a practice round.
He shot an even-par 72 in regulation to get in a playoff for three spots with Gig Harbor’s Chris Tedesco, an Oregon State product, University of Washington standout Frank Garber and Bernakevitch.
Garber advanced with a birdie on the par-5 opening hole of the playoff.
Tedesco earned the second berth with a par at the second hole.
That left Manke and Bernakevitch to duke it out for the final spot, which took two more holes.
And Manke played a smart tee shot at the winding, uphill par-4 fourth hole, leaving his 3-wood tee shot just below a protruding fairway hump.
Bernakevitch, an accomplished former Mackenzie Tour (formerly the Canadian Tour) player who now is the head professional at Victoria Golf Club, chose the driver and from the tee box, the ball soared right down the middle.
But when it landed, the ball kicked hard left off the mound, and ran into a crevice in between two trees in the left rough.
Manke hit his second shot 20 feet below the hole, and that was enough to decide the playoff as Bernakevitch’s approach shot hit off a tree limb, leaving him in all sorts of trouble.
“I’ve just been really confident in my long irons, and hit a lot of 6- and 7-irons into the greens,” Manke said. “It was nice that the course was firm enough not to get mud balls, but soft enough to control shots into the greens.”
Like Manke, this will be Tedesco’s first trip to U.S. Open sectional qualifying. After turning professional out of college, the former Bellarmine Prep golfer won a Arizona mini-tour event in March.
Tedesco came home two weeks ago, and gained conditional status from Mackenzie Tour qualifying school last week. He has also played Canterwood — his home course — nearly every day to prepare for this 18-hole qualifier.
“I figured I had a huge advantage out here, especially with the condition the course is in right now,” Tedesco said. “I knew how well you needed to drive the ball.”
On the first hole of the playoff, Garber had the most difficult approach shot from the right rough. But he hit it the closest — 6 feet from the pin — and made the putt. … On the second hole, Tedesco hit a rocket 4-iron from 195 yards into the wind to get the ball up on an elevated green. He two-putted from 22 feet to advance. … The University of Washington duo of Corey Pereira and Jordan Wu, and UCLA product Lorens Chan were co-medalists at 2-under 70. Chan and Pereira were up at Mackenzie Tour qualifying school until Friday.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442
US Open Local Qualifier
At Canterwood Golf & Country Club
Six players advance to Sectional Qualifying
a—amateur, x—advanced in sudden death playoff