Four golfers have beaten the odds in Utah. Now they'll spread out to other locales around the country to try and beat the odds one more time in hopes of gaining a spot in the U.S. Open.
Milan Swilor, Steve Schneiter and Mike Borich joined out-of-towner Michael Allen as qualifiers Thursday in the 36-hole U.S. Open local qualifying tournament, which included 42 golfers at the Salt Lake Country Club.Schneiter and Swilor finished at 136 after rounds of 66 and 67, respectively, Thursday, while Allen fired his second straight 69 for a 138 total. Borich needed an extra hole to defeat Henry White in a playoff after both golfers finished at 141.
For each of the golfers it's old hat. They've all made it past the local qualifying level before. Now they'll have the challenge of making it past the sectionals, where their odds will be about one in seven.
For Swilor, a 32-year-old assistant pro at Mountain View, it marked the third straight year he's made it out of the local qualifying. Two years ago he lost to fellow Utahn Eric Hogg in a playoff at the sectional at Denver's Columbine Country Club and he figures he's due. "That's probably my favorite course anywhere," he said of Columbine, where he'll compete for two spots with about 20 other golfers on June 3.
The 27-year-old Schneiter has qualified three other times, in 1983, '88 and '89, but has never made it past the sectionals. This year he opted for the qualifier at the Woodmont CC in Rockville, Md., where the odds are usually better - approximately 100 golfers vying for around 35 spots. The catch is, most of them are PGA regulars, who have just played in the Kemper Open.
"I figure I've been to Denver without any luck, so I'll try my luck there," said Schneiter, who still has ambitions to be a PGA Tour player.
Borich, who once had PGA ambitions, has settled into an assistant pro job at Rose Park. Still he'd love to make it to the Open.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing - it has always been a dream of mine," said Borich, who will join Swilor at Columbine. "If I could make the U.S. Open just one time that would be great."
Allen is a PGA exempt player from Phoenix, who chose the Utah qualifying because it fit his schedule better. He was going to play in the British PGA next week, which conflicted with the qualifier in Arizona, but changed his plans recently. This is the first time he's made it out of the local qualifying in several years, he said. He'll play in the Atlanta sectional.