Six Make It Through U.S. Open Local Qualifying at Westwood Country Club

Westwood, MO - Kicking off the 2024 season in St. Louis is the U.S. Open Local Qualifier. 117 players from across the country and internationally gathered at Westwood Country Club to start their journey towards the U.S. Open. Only 6 qualifying spots are available, making this a tightly contested day. In the field, there were five countries and twenty states represented. The youngest player throwing his hat in the ring was 14 years old, and the host club saw its head and assistant professionals take a chance by playing the course. 

The day started out cloudy and wet after an overnight thunderstorm, but as the day went on the clouds began to break, sun shone, and the course began to dry. Westwood Country Club was in its top condition, and given the rain, conditions continued to improve as the day went on. The course was played to a par 71 for the day. The field was cut into a morning and an afternoon wave that started on holes one and ten. Players were left to battle to move on to the next stage of qualifying, and that they did. Throughout the day, players would rise and fall on the leaderboard with many remaining tied in prime positions. 


Joel Sylven of Sweden set the tone from the morning wave by carding a four-under (-4) par. For much of the morning, the lowest score was two-under. A few players would try to pull ahead at three-under, but then would fall back into the fold. By the end of the morning wave, four players were tied at two-under par, and Sylven would sit on top. Sylven was even par after nine holes, then carded a bogey-free back nine with four birdies to rise to the top. He then had to sit all afternoon in anticipation to see if anyone could beat or match him. 


Then came the afternoon wave, with drier conditions than what the morning players saw. In the last three groups off of Hole 1, two players would rise to the top of the leaderboard to join Sylven. Gunnar Broin, an amateur from Shorewood, MN, didn’t come to mess around. Broin shot a bogey-free four-under (-4) par with two birdies on both the front and back nines. Following two groups behind, in the last group of the day was Westwood Country Club’s assistant professional, Devon Liberty. Liberty knows this course and made sure to show it. With seven birdies across the round, Liberty finished the day at four-under (-4) par with Broin and Sylven. Liberty’s round was shown great support by the course's membership, and his finish tied at the top received a great reception by his followers. 


William Postlethwaite of England would fall in behind the three at the top at three-under (-3) par. Postlethwaite would experience five birdies during his round, including draining a putt from the opposite side of the green on Hole 15. Peter Knade of Jupiter, FL played in the same group with Broin, and would join Postlethwaite at three-under (-3) par, just one back on the lead. Knade rounded up four birdies throughout his round to finish tied for fourth. 


With five of the six qualifying spots filled, that left only one, but there were nine players tied at two-under (-2) par. Those players are Nick Arman of Cave Creek, AZ, Michael Becker of St. Louis, MO, Matt Echelmeier of Columbia, MO, Thomas Henson of Hermann, MO, William Hocker of Grapevine, TX, Trevor Mier of Austin, TX, [14 year old ] Anson Munzlinger of Columbia, MO, Chris Naegel of Wildwood, MO, and Dagbjartur Sigurbrandsson of Iceland. The nine set off on a playoff down Hole 10 to determine who would qualify and who would be the two alternates. On this first playoff hole, Naegel and Hocker each made a birdie to clench the top two spots. The two would then have to go head-to-head to figure out who qualified and who would be the first alternate. Any players that made a par on the first playoff hole would continue on for the fight for the second alternate spot, while anyone who made bogey were eliminated from contention. Naegel and Hocker would stay toe-to-toe on the second playoff hole, Hole 16. Both made par and moved on to a third playoff hole, Hole 17. Here, Naegel would defeat Hocker for the qualifying spot. Meanwhile, on the second playoff hole, Trevor Mierl would capture the second alternate position with a birdie.


By the end of a twelve hour qualifying day, Joel Sylven, Gunnar Broin, and Devon Liberty are co-medalist qualifiers. Also earning their spot in the U.S. Open Final Qualifier are William Postlethwaite, Peter Knade, and Chris Naegel. The first alternate is William Hocker and the second alternate is Trevor Mierl. The Final Qualifying Rounds for the U.S. Open will take place across the country on May 20 and June 3. The players that qualify during the final qualifying stage will play at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club Course No. 2 in mid-June at the U.S. Open.

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