Jack’s tournament is in the rearview mirror and the U.S. Open is right around the corner, which means “Golf’s Longest Day” is upon us. Perhaps the most under-appreciated and under-covered golf event on the calendar, the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifiers mixes and matches some of the best players in the world with some of the best stories in golf.
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 3, 2016
10 sectional sites around the country will fill out the U.S. Open field that will compete at Oakmont Country Club next week. With around 40 spots still up for grabs, there are a myriad of intriguing storylines playing out today. The USGA has an extensive list, but here are some of our favorites.
– Aaron Dexheimer, 35, of San Diego, Calif., is a commercial salmon fisherman in Alaska during the summer and a caddie at Del Mar Country Club in the winter. He grinded on mini-tours for more than a decade before taking over his father’s fishing operation.
– Kaiwen Liu, 16, of the People’s Republic of China, advanced to match play in the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur, his first USGA championship. Liu, a rising junior at Torrey Pines High School who lives in San Diego, Calif., also competed in U.S. Open sectional qualifying last year. He broke the San Diego section scholastic boys’ record by four strokes with a 14-under-par 130 the same week he shot a 66 to earn medalist honors in U.S. Open local qualifying.
– Andy Miller, 38, of Napa, Calif., is the son of 1973 U.S. Open champion Johnny Miller, who fired a final-round 63 to win at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. Andy was a four-time All-American at Brigham Young and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. He tied for 62nd in the 2002 U.S. Open. In 2015, he was named design manager of Silverado Resort and Spa.
– Billy Hurley III, 33, of Annapolis, Md., tied for 48th in his lone U.S. Open start in 2014. Hurley graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was the 2004 Patriot League Player of the Year. He was a member of the winning 2005 USA Walker Cup Team. Hurley rose to the rank of lieutenant and served on U.S. Navy destroyers and cruisers.
– James Imai, 15, of Brookline, Mass., is a Japanese American who competed in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur at age 14. He considers 12 to be his lucky number because he was born on Dec. 12 at 5:34 a.m. (adds up to 12). He was born in the 12th year of the current emperor’s reign and he uses golf balls with the No. 12 labeled on them.
– Sulman Raza, 22, of Eugene, Ore., helped the University of Oregon finish second at the NCAA Tucson Regional as the Ducks qualified for their third consecutive NCAA Championship. Raza, who was born in Lithuania and is studying landscape architecture, has played golf in more than a dozen foreign countries. His adoptive mother, Anita, is a professor at Oregon and his Pakistan-born father, Farrukh, is a professional cricket player.