Already on track to rejoin the PGA Tour for next season, former South Carolina All-American Kyle Thompson will test the game’s best a bit earlier – in next week’s U.S. Open.
Thompson (Greenville) earned his berth in the national championship tourney, set for June 15-18 in Erin Hills, Wisc., in Sectional qualifying Monday in Rockville, Md.
His 7-under 137 for two rounds over Woodmont Country Club course placed second in the field of 50, and he picked up one of the three Open spots available at the site.
This will be his second U.S. Open. He missed the cut in 2012. No. 353 in the World Rankings, he played on the PGA Tour 2008 and 2012.
In the Sectional in Summit, N.J., former USC Aiken star Roberto Diaz secured the first alternate spot. He lost on the second hole in a sudden-death playoff for the fifth berth available after finishing 36 holes at 7-under 135.
Like Thompson, Diaz, who lives in North Myrtle Beach, is on pace to join the PGA Tour for the 2017-18 season through a high finish on the Web.com Tour money list. Thompson and Diaz are currently ranked seventh and eighth in earnings, and the top 25 advance.
At Memphis, Aiken resident Scott Brown, a PGA Tour regular who led USC Aiken to multiple national championships, finished in a five-way tie for eighth at 7-under 135. With nine Open berths available at the site, Brown lost in the five-players-for-two-spots playoff.
Otherwise, players with state connections struggled in the 36-hole competition at 10 sites.
Patrick Rada (USC/Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Matt Bryant (Columbia/Dutch Fork/The Citadel) fell short in Tequesta, Fla. Blake Kennedy (Greenville/Clemson), Todd White (Spartanburg), William Rainey (College of Charleston) and Daniel Stanley (Newberry) failed to advance from Ball Ground, Ga.
At Rockville, Md., Harrison Shih (Bluffton) and Thomas Todd (Greenville) missed the cut. Sam Saunders (Clemson) withdrew from the Columbus, Ohio competition. Andrew Dorn (Coastal Carolina), who played in the 2014 Open, missed by three strokes in Springfield, Ohio.
In Memphis, while Brown waited for the playoff, Phillip Mollica (Mt. Pleasant/Clemson), Mark Anderson (Beaufort/USC) and Tommy Gainey (Hartsville) missed the cut. Three former USC players – Sean Kelly, Will Starke and Caleb Sturgeon – all failed to advance in Lakewood, Wash.
State players exempt into the U.S. Open field include defending champion Dustin Johnson (Irmo/Coastal Carolina), 2007 champion Lucas Glover (Greenville/Clemson), Kevin Kisner (Aiken), William McGirt (Boiling Springs), Wesley Bryan (Chapin/USC), Bill Haas (Greenville) and Russell Henley (Charleston).