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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Golf's Longest Day Wasn't Long Enough

Golf Channel will have some extra coverage today of "Golf's Longest Day," as they billed the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying on Monday. Apparently the weatherman didn't receive a complete list of qualifying sites, which left us a couple of interesting storylines for today.

Here's the deal: The Memphis site got completely rained out. The start was delayed by bad weather. About 4 groups got out and played one hole in the afternoon. You read that right -- one hole. And by 2:30pm the entire day was scrapped because beautiful weather means nothing when the course is underwater.

This is interesting, and not just because it could delay PGA Tour players who are scheduled to play the FedEx St. Jude Classic pro-am on Wednesday. This is one of the larger qualifying areas, so there are a lot of Tour pros there. (And of course the St. Jude is played in Memphis, another reason for the large number.)

The other reason goes like this: There are alternates who didn't get in at the other sites, and they're traveling to Memphis in hopes of getting a spot if some of the Memphis players withdraw. (A very real possibility if the qualifier gets more delays and some of the players decide they need to get in a practice round. At least 70 players will get paid at the St. Jude, after all! Go for the major or the Tour card? An interesting conundrum.) GC mentioned that one alternate had already called the site and was driving over 500 miles to get there. You can bet that some other alternates will make the same effort.

And then there was the Oregon site. Casey Martin was medalist there. You may remember him -- he has a leg disease that makes it very painful to walk. A court ruling gave him the right to use a cart during PGA Tour rounds several years ago; some players had a problem with that, but the courts ruled that it didn't give him an unfair advantage. The pain got bad enough that he eventually quit the Tour and took a coaching job. (His Ducks came close to winning the NCAA tournament last week.) Tripp Isenhour said the time not playing may have actually helped his game. Doctors had not believed he would still be able to walk and play after this long. Here's a link to an ESPN story with more details.

But the really interesting aspect here isn't just that Casey qualified. It's that there were only 2 spots open and today, because of weather delays, there will be a playoff for the 2nd spot. One of the two players in that playoff is one of Casey's students, Daniel Miernicki.

There were good stories Monday as well, of course. Not only did Casey Martin qualify, but so did Michael Allen from the Champions Tour, Davis Love III, and Charlie Wi. (Wi was the medalist. Way to go, Charlie!)  But there's still some drama left before next week.

Interesting stories to follow today, folks. Interesting stories.

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