Schupak: Open-qualifier WDs not part of job
The longest day in golf? Not for the 22 contestants who withdrew during the Colonial Country Club U.S. Open sectional qualifier June 3.
That’s 13 more than any other site Monday. At the beginning of the day, 112 players were bidding for nine spots into the Open. Before long, they were dropping like flies. John Rollins, Colt Knost, and Tim Petrovic were among the PGA Tour pros who called it quits after 18 holes. Cut Joey Snyder III some slack because he was limping with a leg injury and subsequently withdrew from the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
But it bordered on the ridiculous in the afternoon as 18 players including Roberto Castro pulled a Roberto Duran and said, “No Mas.” Stephen Ames, Chris DiMarco, Bobby Gates and Brian Gay were among a parade of pros who decided discretion is the better part of valor and packed it in mid-round.
To some this is pragmatic, simply good business. If you’re not going to make it, save your energy for this week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, the tournament you’re actually going to have a chance to compete in. I get it. Memphis can be a sauna. (Amazingly, it was a balmy 80 degrees with a light breeze Monday). It’s an exhausting week, a test of stamina as much as skill. But you also know what you’re signing up for at the U.S. Open qualifier: 36 holes of slow play, sometimes with an amateur or wannabe pro shooting a score as high as the temperature.
This is also their job. Brandon Crick, a 25-year-old mini-tour pro who earned a spot in his first U.S. Open, put it this way: “Golf’s longest day? College golf teams have about 10 of these per year.”
So is it really asking too much for Tour pros to suck it up and play 36? I think it’s high time the USGA penalize players who withdraw from the qualifier. If the USGA wanted to eliminate the problem in an instant, it could decrease the number of spots available at sites based on WDs, but that wouldn’t be fair to the players who keep playing. So here’s what I propose: If a golfer WDs from the sectional, he forfeits the opportunity to skip local qualifying the following year (a privilege granted to Tour pros). I bet that would make guys think twice about walking off in the middle of a round. For one, it’s not fair to your playing partners. It can screw up pace of play. Threesomes became twosomes having to wait behind threesomes. In fact, so many players withdrew at Colonial that I witnessed three empty holes on the South Course.
This is for the right to play for our national championship. Show a little respect and go the distance. That's what Crick did. After making his dream come true, he then drove 10 1/2 hours home to Lincoln, Neb. He had to work the next day.