5 Things, Springfield: Stuard, Brown move on

Brian Stuard during the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Springfield (Ohio) Country Club.

Brian Stuard during the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Springfield (Ohio) Country Club.

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Thirty-nine players for two spots.

That was the scenario Monday at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Springfield (Ohio) Country Club.

And in the end it was Brian Stuard and Brandon Brown grabbing the two coveted spots for next week's championship at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

Here are 5 Things to Know from Monday's sectional qualifier in Springfield:

• • •

1. BRIAN'S BIG WIN: Brian Stuard made eight straight cuts to start the PGA Tour season. He's made just two in eight starts since, including this past week at the Memorial.

That downward trend came to an end Monday as Stuard qualified for his first U.S. Open.

Stuard, who has just four top-10s in 44 Tour starts, posted rounds of 65-64 for an 11-under 129 total to win by six shots at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Springfield (Ohio) Country Club. He made 12 birdies and just one bogey in two rounds.

• • •

2. WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? If Brandon Brown considered winning the NGA Tour's player of the year honors last year a big accomplishment, what he achieved Monday was even bigger.

Much bigger, actually.

Brown earned the second and final qualifying spot. Brown, of Shelbyville, Ky., fired rounds of 70-65 to finish at 5-under 135.

Thanks to eight birdies in his second round, Brown rallied to finish two shots clear of a four-way tie for third.

• • •

3. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A PLAYOFF: While there wasn't a playoff to decide the two automatic U.S. Open bids, there was one to sort out the two alternate spots.

Ryan Yip prevailed first, taking first-alternate honors. Ryan Lenahan captured the second.

Yip was a semifinalist at the 2005 U.S. Amateur, which was played at Merion.

• • •

4. CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR: It's been a rough year so far for Seung-Yul Noh.

Not only did he fall short in the playoff for the alternate spots, but he was disqualified last week at Memorial.

Noh hasn't finished better than T-46 since a T-16 finish at the Northern Trust Open in February. He's missed seven cuts in 11 starts since then, too.

But there he was Monday, contending for a chance to go to his third U.S. Open. Noh finished T-40 in 2010 and T-30 in 2011.

He shot rounds of 68-69 to finish at 3-under 137, just two shots back of a possible playoff for the second automatic U.S. Open berth. A double bogey at the par-4 15th in his second round ended that possibility.

And a loss in the playoff ended his U.S. Open hopes for this year.

• • •

5. SHORT SHOTS: Derek Ernst, who earned his first career PGA Tour victory this year at the Wells Fargo Championship, shot a first-round 66, but a second-round 72 ended his chances. . . . Fellow PGA Tour member James Hahn also failed to qualify, shooting rounds of 69-69 to miss out on the playoff by a shot along with Ernst. . . . Illinois junior Thomas Pieters, fresh off a runner-up finish with the Illini at the NCAA Championship, finished at 3-over 143. Pieters, of Belgium, was the 2012 NCAA individual medalist.

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