Notes: Quinn misses out on Travelers; Choi's absence

Fran Quinn, fresh off a magical weekend at the U.S. Open, missed a playoff by one shot in Monday's qualifier for the PGA Tour's Travelers Championship.
Fran Quinn, fresh off a magical weekend at the U.S. Open, missed a playoff by one shot in Monday's qualifier for the PGA Tour's Travelers Championship. ( Associated Press )

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fran Quinn, the 49-year-old journeyman who played his way into the U.S. Open spotlight early in Round 2, couldn’t quite keep the momentum going. He returned to his home in central Massachusetts late Sunday night, then drove to Connecticut early the next morning to try and qualify for the Travelers Championship.

Quinn shot 69 and missed a playoff by one stroke for the final spot.

Lee Janzen (66), Jason Allred (67) and Marc Turnesa (67) qualified, as did Sebastian Saavedra, who survived a four-way playoff against Joe Ogilvie, Mike Ballo and Richard Lamb. A 28-year-old Argentine, Saavedra will be playing in his first PGA Tour tournament. He has played mostly in Canada.

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NO CHOI IN PINEHURST: Lost in the dust of the sweltering Pinehurst heat was the fact we played a major championship without K.J. Choi for the first time since the 2002 Masters. The South Korean had played in 48 straight before shooting 141 to miss a playoff by one stroke in the Columbus, Ohio, sectional.

Retief Goosen, meanwhile, saw his 10-year exemption for winning the 2004 U.S. Open expire, so he may be forced into a qualifier next summer.

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DECENT DEBUT: Victor Dubuisson acquitted himself nicely in his first U.S. Open, finishing in a share of 28th at 7-over 287. The Frenchman was in better position through 54 holes but fell back with a closing 75.

Having missed The Players Championship when he had fluid drained from his right shoulder, Dubuisson reported that all was well. But he laughed when asked if his fame has picked up back home since his stunning march to the final of the Accenture Match Play Championship.

“No. All they care about is the football right now,” Dubuisson said, a reference, of course, to the World Cup.

Dubuisson has a new caddie, Englishman Tom Ayling. Conveniently, Ayling speaks fluent French.

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CADDIE MOVES: These young golfers are getting wise when it comes to choosing to whom to listen in their first steps.

Former Alabama standout Bobby Wyatt will have veteran caddie Jimmy Johnson on his bag when he makes his pro debut this week at the Travelers Championship. Lydia Ko, the teenage phenom from New Zealand, will have Mike “Fluff” Cowan leading her around Pinehurst No. 2 at the U.S. Women’s Open. It’s a sensible move for Cowan, as he will just have to remain in town, having worked with Jim Furyk at the U.S. Open.

Another former standout for national-champion Alabama, Cory Whitsett, had veteran caddie Matt Hauser on his bag when he played in the U.S. Open. Hauser, who works for Johnson Wagner, lives in Houston and said he has known Whitsett, who grew up in Houston, for more than 10 years.

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WHERE THEY CAME FROM: Of the 12 sectional sites that sent qualifiers on to Pinehurst, N.C., only three failed to have a player make the cut: Springfield, Ohio; Roswell, Ga.; and Houston.

Seven of those who made the cut came from the Columbus, Ohio, site, which isn’t much of a surprise, given that it was jam-packed with PGA Tour names. Six others who made the cut had qualified at the site in England.

Cheers to the off-the-beaten-track sites in Creswell, Ore., and Vero Beach, Fla., as both had two qualifiers make the cut.

Qualifiers, by the way, should take a bow. Three of them finished well at Pinehurst: Erik Compton (T-2), Brooks Koepka (T-4) and Marcel Siem (T-12).

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PINEHURST WAS PINEHURTS AT NO. 6: The monster par-3 sixth hole played toughest at the U.S. Open, with a field average of 3.374, and Francesco Molinari isn’t about to debate the numbers. He played the hole in 4 over. Even worse, qualifier Clayton Rask was 5 over on the hole, while a trio of proven stars – Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Bill Haas – were among those who went 3 over there.

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REGULARS ON THE PINEHURST WEEKEND: Three U.S. Opens at Pinehurst over a 15-year span, and if you wonder if the landscape is constantly changing, then consider this: Only four players can say they’ve made the cut in each of them.

Phil Mickelson is 19 over in those 12 rounds, both Justin Leonard and Jim Furyk are 25 over and Stewart Cink is 37 over. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.