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CHATHAM, Massachusetts – The players at Monday’s U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Eastward Ho! got a small taste of the challenges that might come with actually playing in a U.S. Open. With shifting winds, sharp elevation changes, difficult approaches and lightning-quick greens, it was more than a sufficient challenge for any golfer.
Still, of 84 golfers who entered the event, the five who advanced to Final Qualifying were also amateurs, including two from the Bay State.
Boston’s Andrew DiRamio (North Hill Country Club) and Sudbury’s Weston Jones (Charter Oak Country Club) claimed two of the five spots up for grabs, as DiRamio made birdie on four of his last eight holes to finish with a 3-under-par 68 to earn medalist honors, while Jones was 2-under on his second nine to finish even-par 71.
“It’s a great feeling,” said DiRamio, a top-16 finisher at the Mass Amateur last year. “It validates my game. I know I’m hitting it well and I know I am playing well enough to give it a good run.”
The remaining three local qualifiers were also amateurs: John Hayes (Portland, Maine), Craig Deberg (Charlotte, North Carolina) and Kent Monas (Akron, Ohio). West Bridgewater’s Mike Calef (Pine Oaks Golf Course) earned the second alternate spot after falling in a playoff to Nick Antonelli (Atkinson, New Hampshire).
Monday’s event marked the return of Local Qualifying for the U.S. Open, which was canceled last year due to COVID-19. This year, three U.S. Open Local Qualifiers will be held across the Bay State where competitors from across the country will come to Massachusetts looking to take the first step in qualifying for the 2021 U.S. Open Championship, which will be contested at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California from June 17-20.
Final qualifying (36-holes) will take place across the U.S. and Canada between May 24 and June 7.
QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Andrew DiRamio (Boston, MA); (-3) 68
Weston Jones (Sudbury, MA); (E) 71
John Hayes (Portland, ME); (E) 71
Craig Deberg (Charlotte, NC); (E) 71
Kent Monas (Akron, OH); (+1) 72
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Nick Antonelli (Atkinson, NH) (+2) 73*
a-Mike Calef (West Bridgewater, MA); (+2) 73
*Antonelli won second hole playoff
DiRamio, 38, said it’s been close to a decade since he came up two shots short at a U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Pinehills, but Eastward Ho! provided the perfect venue for him to try again. He plays the courses several times each summer with member John Hynes and was able to read the greens well.
“I just felt good about this place,” DiRamio said. “I shot 68 last time I was here, and it was kind of a similar day so I figured, what the heck?”
DiRamio made birdie three times on the front nine but found himself 1-over after a bogey on the par-3 10th. But then he caught fire with birdies on the next three holes. On the par-5 11th, he hit the green despite a tough lie on the approach and then proceeded to make a 20-footer. He then tapped in for birdie on 12 before hitting a 15-footer on the 13th. He added another short birdie on the 16th to allow him to cruise into the clubhouse comfortably. “Knowing that even-par was going to get in, I didn’t want to make any mistakes so I just played real conservatively.”
Jones, meanwhile, is finishing up his senior year at Lincoln-Sudbury High School and will attend Rutgers University in the fall. Fresh off a Challenge Cup Invitational over the weekend at The Ridge Club in Sandwich, Jones finished 2-under over his final nine to claim a qualifying spot. Despite a double-bogey on the 18th, Jones rallied with two birdies on the front nine, including a hole out on the par-3 fourth. After his tee shot sailed over the green, Jones popped up his chip shot going back up the steep ridge, and it caught the green and rolled into the cup.
“I had 3 or 4 bad breaks that kept me from going low today, but that one was a really good break,” said Jones, who added another birdie on the 8th to pull back to even-par.
Calef came up a stroke short of forcing a playoff for the final qualifying spot, even after holing out for eagle on a blind approach shot on the 8th and starting the back nine with seven straight pars. After a birdie on the 17th pulled him back to 1-over, he gave it back with a bogey on the 18th, which he then played two more times in the playoff for alternate seeding. Calef forced a second playoff hole after hitting a 20-footer but missed the green the second time around.
Whether or not he moved up from alternate status, Calef has plenty to look forward to. He’ll try to defend the Mass Four-Ball title with Nick Maccario next week at Ipswich Country Club and Turner Hill Golf Club, and the two will play in the U.S. Four-Ball at Chambers Bay at the end of the month.
“We have a crazy couple of weeks,” Calef said. “This was an opportunity for me to get some competitive golf on what I’m guessing is maybe a similar golf course based on the way the golf course plays.
And if you get any chance to Eastward Ho! however, whether it’s with a buddy or a competitive round, then you play it. This place is super special.”
Maccario, the 2020 Mass Golf Player of the Year, missed the cut at 4-over 75 but had one of the most impressive shots of the day. After striking the middle of the fairway on the 14th, Maccario had less than 100 yards into the green, which slopes steeply from right to left, but hit the right side and was able to get it to roll right into the cup for an eagle.
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The other two U.S. Open local qualifying events will take place at Ledgemont Country Club in Seekonk on May 11 (qualifier being managed by the Rhode Island Golf Association), and Crumpin-Fox in Bernardston on May 17. A first and second alternate position will also be contested at each of the three qualifying sites. All local qualifiers will be 18-hole qualifiers.
Ledgemont CC U.S. Open Local Qualifier | May 11, 2021 | 5 Qualifying Spots
More than half of the 84 competitors competing for five more spots in the U.S. Open Final Qualifying stage list their residency in Massachusetts. Among the competitors in the field is Jake Shuman, who made his PGA TOUR debut last year at the Wyndham Championship. Former Mass Junior Amateur champion Jimmy Hervol, who has also turned pro, is in the field as well.
Crumpin-Fox Club U.S. Open Local Qualifier | May 17, 2021 | 4 Qualifying Spots
Four more spots will be up for grabs in the final local qualifier in the Bay State, with 47 of the 76 competitors hailing from Massachusetts. Brockton’s Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea) played in the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2019 but will have to go through local qualifying to get in once more. Parziale won the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2017 to earn his spot in 2018. That also earned him an exemption into the 2019 Final Qualifying Round, where he finished T2.
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