The FedEx St. Jude Classic is the first of consecutive PGA Tour starts for John Peterson after he successfully navigated two qualifiers in two states in two days. The latter event, the U.S. Open, will reunite him with an organization that spurned him nine months ago.
Peterson was the most controversial omission from last year’s Walker Cup team and will join Brandt Snedeker on the short list of all-time snubs. Next week at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Peterson is prepared to see the U.S. Golf Association committee members who deemed him unfit to represent the country. He was seventh in the R&A’s World Amateur Ranking at the time of last year’s Walker Cup selection. He turned pro late last year.
“I wouldn’t avoid it if they came up to me. I wouldn’t mind it at all,” Peterson said. “I’d like to talk to them a little bit, maybe, and just see what’s been going on and their reasons for everything. I wouldn’t run away from it. I’ve never been one to do that. I’m not going to seek them out or anything, but if I run into one of them or Steve Smyers (chair of the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee in 2011), I’ll shake his hands and ask him how he’s been, but I’m not going to bring up anything that might bring some bad blood up.”
On Monday, Peterson birdied his final hole of U.S. Open qualifying – hitting 7-iron to 6 feet – to earn one of two spots available at the Springfield, Ohio, sectional. He shot 63 in U.S. Open local qualifying and was hoping to play the Memphis, Tenn., sectional because of its proximity to this week’s St. Jude. He was shipped to Springfield instead, prompting him to tweet, “@usopengolf Shoot 63 and win locals by 4, so naturally the USGA doesn’t send me to my first sectional choice. Just adding fuel to the fire,” and leading to his hectic travel schedule.
The FedEx St. Jude Classic’s qualifier was held Sunday to accommodate Monday’s U.S. Open qualifiers. Peterson shot 67 Sunday in Tennessee to earn his St. Jude spot. He had to leave the qualifier early to catch a flight to Columbus, Ohio, leaving him unable to attend a potential playoff, a common occurrence at PGA Tour qualifiers. He arrived in Columbus at midnight, then shot 64-68 at Springfield Country Club to earn his first U.S. Open berth.
“It feels good to earn my spots,” said Peterson, who played three PGA Tour events this year on sponsor exemptions, making two cuts.