Ex-Fresno State golfer Kevin Sutherland earns U.S. Open spot

Bee Staff And News ServicesJune 3, 2013 

Kevin Sutherland and Matt Bettencourt emerged as the only players with Fresno-area ties to get into the U.S. Open through the 11 section qualifying tournaments on Monday.

Eight others with Fresno ties -- including recent Wells Fargo Championship winner Derek Ernst -- failed to get into the field for the U.S. Open, set for June 10-16 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

Sutherland, a former Fresno State star, shot a 10-under 133 to win the qualifier at Colonial Country Club in Memphis, Tenn., where nine players in the 112-man field moved on.

Recovering from a neck injury that kept him out much of last season, Sutherland has made only one cut this year. He had his older brother, former Tour player David Sutherland, caddie for him and produced rounds of 66-67 to qualify for his first U.S. Open since 2009 at Bethpage Black.

Bettencourt, a former Modesto resident who was once a regular on the Fresno-area amateur circuit, was one of 10 players advancing out of Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md. The former San Joaquin Valley Amateur champion who now lives in Spartanburg, S.C., shot a 5-under 136 and snagged the eighth and final spot with a three on the second hole of a playoff.

Former Fresno State golfer Grant Doverspike was also in the field at Woodmont, but did not qualify after shooting a 3-over 144.

Ernst, the former Clovis East High and UNLV star, shot 2-under 138 at Springfield County Club in Springfield, Ohio, three strokes behind the second of two qualifiers in a 39-player field.

Fellow former Clovis East golfer Bryson DeChambeau, who now plays for Southern Methodist, shot 1-under 141 and finished six strokes behind a qualifying spot.

The five players who advanced from the Fresno local qualifier on May 6 all failed to qualify.

Fresno's Tommy Masters (6-over 149) and Thomas Richardson (169) and Norwalk's John Lee (149) competed in the field at Big Canyon Country Club and Newport Beach Country Club; Turlock's Sam Smith shot 3-over 147 at Hawks Ridge Golf Club in Ball Ground, Ga.; and Atwater's Theodore Shrier shot 5-over 149 at Brookside Golf & Country Club and The Lakes Golf & Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.

Cal's Kim earns a spot

Michael Kim wasn't able to lead top-ranked Cal to the NCAA title last week, but he did get a measure of personal redemption by earning a spot in the U.S. Open.

Kim might have had the longest trip to get to Merion. Cal ended its dream season by losing in the NCAA semifinals on Saturday. Kim was in Ohio on Sunday to receive the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top Division I player -- presented by Nicklaus himself -- and then back to Georgia for qualifying.

He had rounds of 67-66 at Hawk's Ridge in Ball Ground, Ga. to tie for medalist honors and earn one of three spots.

The biggest of the 11 36-hold qualifiers was in Westerville, Ohio, not far from where the Memorial finished in Dublin, because many PGA Tour players were involved. Charley Hoffman led eight players who qualified, while 11 were in a playoff for seven spots.

The second-largest qualifier was in Memphis ahead of the St. Jude Classic. PGA Tour rookie Scott Langley got into the mix with a hole-in-one to advance.

The day was not without a bizarre disqualification.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen was in the Rockville, Md., qualifier, but only for one round. After opening with a 75, it was discovered he was wearing steel spikes, typical on the PGA Tour but not allowed at Woodmont Country Club.

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