Thousands of golfers worldwide are trying to qualifying for the 115th United States Open at Chambers Bay.
But only three of them have direct ties to the course.
Jay Blasi, one of the co-designers as a former employee at Robert Trent Jones II, LLC, is at the Stanford University Golf Course on Wednesday morning trying to get through U.S. Open local qualifying. Blasi, a Wisconsin native, also tried to qualify for the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay.
Ryan Young, the assistant professional at Chambers Bay, was one of 120 golfers at U.S. Open local qualifying at The Home Course on Monday. The former Whitworth standout was right near the cut line much of his round, but settled for a 7-over-par 79, tying for 57th and missing the cut.
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Because Brent Zepp is the head professional at the host site, he was granted an exemption by the United States Golf Association directly to U.S. Open sectionals. Zepp said he will play at Tumble Creek Club in Cle Elum on June 8.
Ever since Blasi saw Chambers Bay forming into what it is - a championship 18-hole links-style layout - he had the idea to try and qualify for a national championship.
“It is the long shot of all long shots,” Blasi said. “But it is something fun to do. Every kid has the dream to play in the U.S. Open, so I might as well do it.”
Outside the daily-looping Chambers Bay caddies, and superintendents Eric Johnson and Josh Lewis, Blasi, 36, probably knows the course better than anybody. He estimates he has played it 50-75 times since it opened in 2007.
Blasi was the No. 1 golfer on his high school team at Middleton HS near Madison, Wisc. Once he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, he thought about walking on to the men’s golf team.
“My first year of landscape architecture determines if you keep going in it,” Blasi said. “I learned a month into college I could try and play golf, or design golf courses. My passions was there for designing them.”
He shot 78-74 at his U.S. Amateur qualifier at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, California back in 2010, finishing 13th. He got off to a rough start with back-to-back double bogeys, but played well the rest of the way.
His career-low round at Chambers Bay is 68.
As far as Young’s attempt to qualify, he made the turn Monday at 1-over, and knew he needed to make up a couple of shots to make the cut.
But at the 11th hole, a short par 4, he said he did not know his yardage to the green on his second shot, and his ball sailed over the green.
“Then I went over the green again,” Young said. It led to a double bogey, then a string of more bogeys before he made a birdie at the 18th hole.
“I am not going to lie, I was super confident going in, and thought if I could get to sectionals, I felt mentally ... the light was green to play well at Tumble (Creek).”
Young will still be busy during U.S. Open week. He is the committee chairperson of the practice center, overseeing 60 volunteers who will operate the driving range, putting greens and make sure players get to their tee times.
“I’ll still be the middle of the action,” Young said.