U.S. Open sectionals: Sam Burns dominates while Retief Goosen fails in Memphis

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

U.S. Open sectionals: Sam Burns dominates while Retief Goosen fails in Memphis

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U.S. Open sectionals: Sam Burns dominates while Retief Goosen fails in Memphis

Here is a recap of the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Memphis, Tenn. For complete coverage of all U.S. Open sectionals, click here.

Memphis, Tenn.

Colonial CC (South), Par 72; Ridgeway CC, Par 71

11 spots available

Scores

MEDALIST: Sam Burns simply dominates in Memphis.

It was at this site two years ago that Burns snuck through a playoff to get into his first U.S. Open, and this time he made it way simpler. Burns scorched Ridgeway in the morning to the tune of a 9-under 62 (that included a hole-out eagle) and didn’t let up in the afternoon with a 6-under 66 at Colonial. His 15-under total earned him medalist honors by five shots and means he’s back in the Open.

Burns, 21, was once the top-ranked junior and then (at LSU) the top-ranked college player in the country. Burns, of Shreveport, La., has already won and finished T-2 in events on the Web.com Tour in 2018, meaning he’s possibly earned enough there already to grab his 2018-19 PGA Tour card. But in limited PGA Tour starts this season, he’s had a pair of top-12 finishes and is close to special temporary status.

With his talent, Burns is no surprise as a medalist here. It is a bit of a stunner, though, that two days ago he was firing a third-round 81 to MDF at Memorial and now he’s cruising through sectionals. Regardless, Burns is a story once again in Memphis.

ALSO QUALIFYING: Steve Stricker just never seems to age. A year ago, he was denied a special exemption to play in a U.S. Open in his home state of Wisconsin and then simply medaled at sectional qualifying to get in anyway. This time he wasn’t first, but Stricker did more than enough with a round of 4-under 68 at Colonial followed by a 6-under 65 at Ridgeway to tie for second and advance again. The 12-time PGA Tour winner ended up finishing T-16 at the 2017 U.S. Open and has four top 10s at the event. Mackenzie Hughes, who won his maiden PGA Tour title in late 2016, also finishes 10 under to qualify. This will be his second U.S. Open. Ole Miss star Braden Thornberry also cruises through by finishing T-4 at 9 under. The reigning Haskins Award winner made his PGA Tour debut last year as an amateur at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and finished in a tie for fourth. He will make his U.S. Open debut next week. Three-time PGA Tour winner Scott Stallings finishes in a tie for sixth at 8 under to earn his second U.S. Open start.

A 11-for-three playoff among those finishing at 7 under ensued for the final spots. And of course, something bonkers happened. Eric Axley holed out for eagle form 159 yards on the first playoff hole to punch his ticket!!! Aaron Wise and Matt Jones birdied that hole while the rest parred or worse, and they advanced on as well.

ALTERNATES: The playoff for alternates continued Tuesday morning due to darkness Monday night. Scott Piercy gathers the first alternate spot. Seamus Power is second alternate.

MISSED OUT: Ben Crane and Piercy are the multiple PGA Tour winners who didn’t advance in the playoff. Crane was eliminated, while Piercy still has hope with his first alternate slotting. … The bid for Retief Goosen to return to Shinnecock Hills, the site of his 2004 U.S. Open win, appears to be dead. The South African (who also won the U.S. Open in 2001) goes 68-71, but his 4-under total is three shy of that playoff for the final spots. The top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week automatically qualify for the U.S. Open, but Goosen will get no help there as he’s currently ranked No. 372. Golf is cutthroat. … Three-time PGA Tour winner J.J. Henry also finishes at 4 under to fall short. … Another Tour winner in John Merrick comes up empty as well at 3 under. … Norman Xiong, the much-heralded Oregon Ducks player who recently announced he was turning pro, finishes at 1 under and fails to advance. Xiong remains an immense talent (proving plenty in his one-and-a-half years at Oregon), and he’s one of the favorites for the 2018 Haskins Award. … Harris English, a two-time PGA Tour winner, ties Xiong’s 1-under mark. Unfortunately, that’s not nearly enough to accomplish reaching the U.S. Open. … Hunter Mahan opens in 79 and admirably carries on. But overall he comes in at 10 over and will miss the U.S. Open for the third consecutive year. … Several players withdrew from this site. The notables among those were J.B. Holmes (opening 68 at Ridgeway), Austin Cook (70 at Ridgeway), Matt Every (72 at Colonial), Chris Kirk (71 at Ridgeway), Billy Horschel (72 at Ridgeway) and Wesley Bryan (no score).

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