- Golfer Benefits
SOUTH HADLEY, Massachusetts – It was a beautiful day in Western Massachusetts as 72 players competed for 5 spots at Orchards Golf Club in U.S. Open Local Qualifying.
The day belonged to Chris Tallman of Holyoke, MA, who was the lone man in the field to break par. Tallman carded an impressive 4 birdies, including 3 straight on holes 9, 10, and 11, en route to a 1-under 69. He ran into some trouble on the par-4 18th, which was playing as the second hardest hole on the course.
After hitting his approach shot into the greenside bunker, Tallman faced an uneven lie which led him to leave the ball in the bunker for his 4th. “My lie in the bunker on the first shot wasn’t that great. It was kind of sitting down and I had a funny stance so I kind of just wanted to get it on the green. I left that first one in the bunker and I had a much better lie.”
View this post on Instagram
But thanks to some hard work of late, Tallman was able to get up and down for bogey. “I’ve been practicing a lot out of the sand, so I felt good about it.” Because of that clutch bunker shot, he secured medalist honors at a course that is near and dear to his heart.
As a former General Manager of Orchards GC for 4 years, Tallman had a good idea of how to play the course. “I have a lot of history here at the Orchards and have course knowledge coming out here you know, I grew up as a junior member here and I was the GM, so of course, knowledge helped me out a lot.”
The course was in superb condition, as sunny skies and high 60-degree weather shined down on the players throughout the day. Tallman did not hesitate to give praise to the Orchards staff and former colleagues for the course condition, “The course was fantastic,” he noted. “You know, I gotta give a lot of credit to Brendan Coe and his crew, the superintendent. The greens have been fantastic, rolling true. We had some speed to them, so they were firm and fast.”
Playing alongside Tallman was Jimmy Hervol (Hopkinton, MA), who was the runner-up in the 2019 Massachusetts Amateur. Arguably the greatest UConn men’s golfer of all time, Hervol opened with a bang, birdieing 3 of his first 4 holes to get to 2-under at the turn. After making bogeys on 10 and 12, he played stress-free golf coming in and carded 6 straight pars en route to an even par round of 70. “The last six holes I didn’t make a birdie, but I hit, I think, every fairway and every green so it was pretty much stress-free coming in.”
A playoff was needed to determine the final 3 spots. High school senior, and soon to be UConn Husky, Bradley Sawka (Ellington, CT) holed an improbable 30-foot birdie putt on the double-tiered 18th green to get into the playoff at 1-over (71). Shawn Scott (Tewksbury, MA) holed a clutch 6-foot par putt on his 18th hole of the day to claim his spot in the playoff. Rounding out the playoff group were Scott Berliner (Lake Luzerne, NY) Kyle Souza (Santa Rosa, CA), and 3-time Massachusetts Open Champion Jason Thresher of West Suffield, CT, who all posted rounds of 1-over 71.
The playoff began on the short but challenging par-3 17th. None of the 5 players hit the green in regulation, but 4 of the 5 were able to get up and down to advance to the daunting par-4 18th. After all the players hit their drives in play, they faced a challenging uphill shot to a two-tiered green with a difficult front pin location. Like the first playoff hole, no competitor was able to hit the green in regulation, but thanks to some smart misses and solid putting, Souza and Thresher were able to get up-and-down to make par and punch their tickets to Final Qualifying.
“Even though I didn’t hit either of the greens, my approach shots were actually pretty good,” said Souza. “I left it in a spot that I wanted to leave it in. I had my putter in hand and I had uphill putts, which is kind of what you need to be doing out here.” Souza was able to navigate an opening double bogey and finish his last 17 holes in 1-under to snag a playoff spot and made his chip shots look easy as he carded two stress-free pars in the playoff.
Sawka drew an unfortunate break as his ball bounded over the green and into a tricky downhill lie for his 3rd, which led to a double bogey. Although Scott was unable to get up and down for par, he made his 4-foot bogey putt to secure the 5th and final local qualifying spot. “I’m just going, to be honest; I didn’t play that great during the round,” he said. “I just hung in there and so it almost felt a little bit like a bonus to be out there.”
QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Christopher Tallman (Holyoke, MA); (-1) 69
James Hervol (Hopkinton, MA); (E) 70
Shawn Scott (Tewksbury, MA); (+1) 71
Kyle Souza (Santa Rosa, CA); (+1) 71
Jason Thresher (West Suffield, CT); (+1) 71
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Bradley Sawka* (Ellington, CT); (+1) 71
Scott Berliner (Lake Luzerne, NY); (+1) 71
*denotes amateur player
Kirkbrae Country Club (Lincoln, Rhode Island) will also host the next U.S. Open local qualifying in the New England area on May 16. All local qualifiers will feature 18 holes of competition.
Kirkbrae Country Club U.S. Open Local Qualifying | May 16, 2023 | 5 Qualifying Spots, 2 Alternate Spots
FINAL QUALIFYING SCHEDULE
Walton Heath Golf Club (Surrey, England)
Ibaraki Golf Course (Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan)
Northwood Club and Bent Tree Country Club (Dallas, Texas)
Lambton Golf & Country Club (Ontario, Canada)
Hillcrest Country Club (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Pine Tree Country Club (Boynton Beach, Fla.)
Hawks Ridge Golf Club (Ball Ground, Ga.)
Woodmont Country Club (North Course) (Rockville, Md.)
Canoe Brook Country Club (Summit, N.J.)
Lakes Golf & Country Club /Brookside Golf & C.C. (Columbus, Ohio)
Springfield C.C. (Springfield, Ohio)
Old Chatham Golf Club (Durham, N.C.)
Tacoma Country & Golf Club (Lakewood, Wash.)
*Social Media/Story Photo Credit: Kyle Grabowski, Daily Hampshire Gazette