Putnam, Stegmaier share sectional lead in Columbus

Michael Putnam shared the lead after the first round of the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Columbus, Ohio.
Michael Putnam shared the lead after the first round of the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Columbus, Ohio. ( Associated Press )

Monday, June 2, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio –– Michael Putnam, the 2013 Web.com player of the year, and Web.com player Brett Stegmaier each shot 5-under-par 67 at Brookside Golf and Country Club on Monday morning to share the midway lead at U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying in Columbus.

Justin Thomas, another Web.com regular, shot the low morning round at more difficult Scioto Country Club, a 3-under 67. Thomas, who led Alabama to the NCAA championship and played on the U.S. Walker Cup team in 2013, has three top-5 Web.com finishes this year. He is coming off a T-37 at the Memorial Tournament.

Putnam has a best finish of T-24 at the Shell Houston Open 21 PGA Tour starts this season. Stegmaier, who played with 20-time Tour winner Davis Love III, lost a playoff at the Web.com Louisiana Open on March 30.

Next best at Brookside with 68s were three-time European Ryder Cupper Paul Casey, recent Zurich Classic winner Seung Yul Noh and Danny Lee.

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Tour sophomore Luke Guthrie and Kyle Reifers each shot 68 at Scioto. Guthrie, a former Illinois standout, survived an 11-for-7 playoff at this sectional last year.

He then made among the best early moves in the afternoon, birdieing three of his first four holes at Brookside. Guthrie was one of eight players tied at the top at 4 under at one point early in Round 2. Joining him temporarily were 1997 British Open champion Justin Leonard, Will Mackenzie, Michael Kim, Casey, Putnam, Stegmaier and Lee.

The field here includes three major champions besides Leonard and 1996 PGA champion Love: Rich Beem (2002 PGA), Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters), Justin Leonard (1997 British Open) and Mike Weir (2003 Masters). Two-time major winner Vijay Singh entered but did not start.

Scioto Country Club, which will host the 2016 U.S. Senior Open, is the Donald Ross course where 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus grew up playing under the guidance of instructor Jack Grout. It was also the site of the 1926 U.S. Open won by Bobby Jones.