Troy Kelly looks at Chambers Bay golf course almost every day. When it’s clear, he only has to gaze through a window out the back of his house.
“I can see the whole freaking rolling hills and everything,” Kelly said. “It takes me about eight minutes to get there.”
He’s overcome a litany of injuries to ensure he’ll be playing at the University Place golf course — basically in his back yard —later this month when the state of Washington hosts its first U.S. Open.
Kelly narrowly avoided a playoff with fellow University of Washington graduate Richard Lee when Mackenzie Hughes went from 2-under-par and a spot in the Open to even when he double-bogeyed on his 36th and final hole of the U.S. Open sectional qualifier on Monday at Tumble Creek Golf Course.
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All three of Monday’s qualifiers are UW grads.
Cheng-Tsung Pan took first with a 2-under 138. Kelly and Lee tied for the next two spots to the Open at 1-under 139.
“I thought it was a guaranteed playoff,” Lee said. “But I was so tired I wasn’t even thinking. … And I didn’t want to play Troy because if we went to a playoff, we knew one of us was going to be severely disappointed. Luckily it worked out where all three of us qualified.”
Chambers Bay will be Lee’s first major, and Pan’s first as a pro. It’s the second time Pan has qualified for the Open out of the Cle Elum course after securing a trip to Merion Golf Course in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, in 2013.
Just last week he finished second at the NCAA championships. Then he comes to Cle Elum and drops a hole-in-one on the seventh hole Monday.
“It’s definitely a good mojo right now,” Pan said.
The only bad decision he made Monday was skipping lunch and having to quickly grab a pair of energy bars.
“But I need to work harder because the U.S. Open is going to be much tougher.”
Olympia native Cameron Peck finished at 4-over 152 to miss the cut.
It seemed a long shot Kelly would get through. The 37-year-old Central Kitsap High School graduate hasn’t played a PGA Tour event since the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the beginning of February. He’s had surgeries on his left hip and right knee and said he’s now has a torn labrum in his right hip. Though he said his left knee had been more bothersome than the hip.
Kelly said he’s lost about 25 pounds in three months, most of that due to cutting out soda.
“I was terrible with pop. It’s all I would drink before I would play a round,” Kelly said. “… It drove my wife nuts. I lost 10-12 pounds in about a three-week span. Just from cutting it off.”
That’s made it more difficult for his brother and caddie, Ryan Kelly, to give him a hard time.
“If he woke up in the morning, the first thing he would do is drink a Coke,” Ryan Kelly said. “We go to McDonalds and it’s a McMuffin and a Coke. When we got home it was Coke, wake up in the middle of the night, ‘I want a Coke.’ ”
Troy Kelly said he might have surgery on his right hip after the Open.
“You could tell he wanted this,” Ryan Kelly said about his brother qualifying. “He talked about this a lot. He was like, ‘How cool would it be to play in your home town? Sleep in your own bed?’ This is once in a lifetime.”
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