Five Players Move on to US Open Final Qualifying


96 players started the day hopeful they would move on to the final stage of qualifying for the US Open. Only five qualifying spots and two alternate spots were up for grabs at Gateway National Golf Links in Madison, IL. After storms blew through the area the night before, overcast skies lingered throughout the morning, but as the sun broke through, it turned into a nice day. Throughout the day, players moved up and down the leaderboard. Coming out in the fifth group of the day, amateur Justin Bryant of St. Louis, MO posted a four-under (-4) par, setting the tone for all following behind. Through fourteen holes, Bryant’s round was bogey free, and he sat at five-under par. Following in the group directly behind Bryant was professional Ian Simon of Scottsdale, AZ. Simon gained momentum on the back nine and was able to come into the clubhouse at three-under (-3) par, just 1-stroke behind Bryant. By this point, the majority of the field was on the course and could see that going low would be crucial. 


There were many players that found themselves one or two strokes back from the lead at some point in the day, but only a few were able to hold on to get within reach of moving to the next stage. Half way through the tee times, professional Wesley Hunter of Birmingham, AL took to the course. Much like Bryant, he too had a bogey free front nine. With three birdies and one bogey, Hunter entered the clubhouse tied with Bryant at four-under (-4) par. John Augenstein, a professional from Owensboro, KY, came in with an almost clean round with just one bogey - on the par 4, eleventh hole - and four birdies to put himself in the mix. The next player to find his way above the cut line was professional Bo Van Pelt of Tulsa, OK. Van Pelt kept his round bogey free until the final hole of the day, where a miss hit put his ball in the water to the left of the green, but he was still able to return a three-under (-3) par for the day, making him the fifth player in the clubhouse with the potential to move on. A few groups behind, Colin Ahlvers, a professional from Collinsville, IL, sat at two-under par through fourteen holes. A bogey free back nine and a birdie on hole fifteen brought Ahlvers to three-under (-3) par and inside the qualifying line to force a playoff. As the groups dwindled down on the course, amateur Key Coker from Dallas, TX fought his way into the clubhouse. After making bogey on the first hole, Coker parred the rest of the front nine, then made two birdies and a bogey to sit at even par through 14. Coker was not done yet and went on to birdie the last three holes to put himself in the now five-way playoff for three spots at three-under (-3) par. 


The play-off started on Hole 1 between Ian Simon, John Augenstein, Bo Van Pelt, Colin Ahlvers, and Key Coker. The five took off down the first hole. Coker and Simon’s tee shots went down the left, while the rest were in the fairway. Coker had to search for his ball, but once it was found, he managed to get up and down for a par. Simon was not as lucky with his second and third shots, and made bogey to fall into the second alternate position. On the green, Van Pelt and Ahlvers sank their putts for birdie to claim the third and fourth qualifying spots behind the co-medalists Bryant and Hunter. Augenstein’s birdie putt was just shy of going in, and he was forced to move on to a second play-off hole against Coker. The two went to Hole 18, where they both hit tee shots down the fairway. Augenstein’s approach shot was put in tight to the pin, leaving an easy tap in putt and placing pressure on Coker. Coker responded with an approach shot that left him with about a three foot putt to take it to a third play-off hole. Coker made the putt and the two went back to Hole 1. Both made it to the green without any issues. A miss-hit putt from Coker left the door open for Augenstein. Augenstein sank his putt for birdie and claimed the final qualifying spot. Coker became the first alternate. 


So, from the St. Louis area local qualifier, Medalist Justin Bryant(a), Medalist Wesley Hunter, Colin Ahlvers, Bo Van Pelt, and John Augenstein are moving on to the final qualifying stage for the 2023 US Open, where they will hope to qualify for a spot at Los Angeles Country Club. Trey Coker(a) is the first alternate and Ian Simon is the second alternate.


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