Travel problems trigger US Open sectional qualifying ordeal for Andrew Putnam

Going from the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, to the U.S. Open sectional qualifying tournament in Memphis, Tennessee — some 600 miles apart —University Place’s Andrew Putnam knew it was going to be a hectic turnaround under normal circumstances.

He never could have envisioned this nightmare.

Putnam finished up the Memorial Tournament on Sunday and was prepared to board a late-afternoon, two-leg flight to Memphis where the PGA Tour tournament starts later this week.

Once he got to Port Columbus International Airport, that is when the adventure started.

It started with his flight being held on the tarmac. Weather in Chicago was delaying flights all over the country.

Time was ticking. Putnam and caddie Johnny MacArthur were not getting answers on the status of the flight.

So they did something drastic — they rented a car and drove all night to Ridgeway Country Club to tee off for 36 holes to try to qualify for the hometown U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

It did not work out well for Putnam, who shot a morning 2-over-par 74 after getting just a few hours of sleep — starting with an opening-hole double bogey.

Putnam played another nine holes in the afternoon, but withdrew after that, ending his hopes.

“It was just an unfortunate situation,” Putnam said. “I tried to give it my best.”

Putnam said he and MacArthur got on the road about 10 p.m. EST. The golfer drove the first leg of the trip, and MacArthur took over after that.

The two of them got into Memphis in the early morning. Putnam slept for an hour in the hotel, then headed out to the course.

“I was kind of in a daze,” Putnam said. “I did not sleep well.”

His first drive went way left and hit a tree. His second shot also hit a tree. He hit a bad chip shot. He walked off with a double bogey to begin a 4-over 40 front side.

“I probably wouldn’t have made such an effort to go to the qualifier,” Putnam said, “if the U.S. Open wasn’t in my hometown.”