Renner among 4 U.S. Open qualifiers at N.Y. site
PURCHASE, N.Y. – The tri-state area boasts numerous venues that have hosted U.S. Opens, including Winged Foot, Baltusrol, Shinnecock Hills and Bethpage. Old Oaks Country Club and the Century Country Club are cut from the same cloth and proved it again Monday during sectional qualifying for the 2014 U.S. Open.
Old Oaks and Century feature thick rough, tree-lined fairways and slick, undulating greens. Only three players finished 36 holes under par on Monday. No one was going to qualify for our country's national championship by fluke here.
Fran Quinn, 49, shot a pair of 69s to share medalist honors at 138 with Rob Oppenheim, who shot an opening-round 64 at Old Oaks during the morning session and then hung on to also finish at -3.
"I had a great start and I birdied four in a row," Oppenheim said. "I did a pretty good job of not looking at the scoreboard, so I didn't really know where I stood."
However, as the wind freshened in the afternoon and the greens firmed, Oppenheim, who plays on the Web.com Tour, leaked oil. He bogeyed his eighth, 10th and 11th holes and fought to remain patient down the stretch.
After making another bogey on his 14th hole and seeing his score drop to 2 under, Oppenheim and his caddie decided that an overall score under par would be good, and probably good enough.
They wound up being right.
Quinn also had to keep his composure Monday afternoon.
"I started out my second round and I was 2 over after four," he said. "One of them was a three-putt and on the other, my ball got caught up in that gnarly grass and I duffed the chip. I was 2 over quick and then I made two really good birdies on probably the two hardest holes on that side, five and eight. To turn at even, I was really happy about that."
After another birdie at No. 12, Quinn said that he got a little careless.
"We'd just played the previous hole down wind and I just kind of got lost in my thoughts," he said. "We thought it was down and I hit 5-iron really well and it one-bounced right into the bunker. I mean, I was 35 yards short of where I needed to hit it. It was a bad decision on out part; it was a 4-iron and I hit a 5."
Quinn said that in years past his frustration might have gotten the better of him, but with son Owen on his bag, he stayed calm. After making double bogey on No. 13, he was able to birdie No. 16 and then hit a lob wedge to within 2 feet on the 558-yard par-5 No. 18 to set up another birdie.
Sitting on the patio at Old Oaks late Monday evening, Quinn learned that Jim Renner made eagle on 18 to post 139 (-2).
"Truthfully, that's unbelievable," he said. Then, when Renner walked up behind Quinn shortly after signing his card, Quinn popped out of his seat.
"You're a stud, you know that," he said as he grabbed Renner's hand and then gave him a hug.
At even par standing in the 18th fairway, Renner appeared to be heading for a playoff against Cameron Wilson, the 2014 NCAA Individual champion, and Jamie Lovemark, but one swing changed that.
"I hit a 3-hybrid from about 240 yards out, but we were just trying to hit it about 225 and let it run up," Renner said. "It was a nice little shot I hit a few times today with that hybrid, just a low little stinger. It ran up the hill, through the little gut there. You can't really see much from down in the fairway, so we figured it was up there, but when we got over the hill we saw it stopped about four feet from the hole. That was pretty nice."
Matthew Dobyns, a PGA professional from Fresh Meadows Country Club on Long Island, earned the fourth ticket to Pinehurst by finishing at even par (141).
"I was comfortable here and played these courses a bunch as an assistant," Dobyns said. "We played our sectional championship two years ago here at Old Oaks. We played it at Century last year."
Dobyns, who will make his first U.S. Open appearance next week, said that while the greens were firmer than they are kept for member play, he knew where he wanted to hit the ball, where he could miss and places he needed to avoid.
None of the four qualifiers has played Pinehurst No. 2 recently, but on Monday night, that didn't matter. All four had passed the tests Old Oaks and Century had posed. They've got nine days to get ready for Donald Ross' examine.