PROVO Five Utah golfers still have a chance to fulfill their dream of playing in golf's most-coveted tournament.
In a first-stage 2008 U. S. Open qualifying event Monday at Riverside Country Club, Ryan Ellis, Clay Bingham, Jake Ellison, Michael McRae and Randall McCracken advanced to the second stage. The Open this year is scheduled for June 9-15 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, but the five qualifiers from Monday still have to get past another stage at various courses next week.
Ellis, a former University of Utah golfer and resident of Draper, coasted through the qualifying with a 7-under par 65 to take medalist honors. McCracken, coach at Utah; McRae, who just finished a stand-out career at St. Mary's College; Bingham, a former BYU and Weber State golfer; and Ellison, also a former Cougar, all shot 4-under par 68. Bingham and McRae are both amateurs.
Recently turned pro Scott Clark, runner-up last year at the Utah State Amateur, also fired a 68 but was not present when the entire field completed play, which would have forced a five-man playoff for the final four spots. Instead, Clark will be the first alternate. The second alternate spot goes to Eric Nilsson, who survived a four-man playoff with Sandy pro Steve Schneiter, BYU assistant golf coach Todd Miller and Micah Rodosky. All four shot 3-under 69.
Former West High stars Tony and Gipper Finau finished back in the pack, with Tony firing a 1-over 73 and Gipper shooting a 75.St. George's Jay Don Blake, a former PGA Tour regular who won his only event at Torrey Pines, also missed the mark with an even-par 72.
First-stage U.S. Open qualifying
(Five advance to second stage)
Par-72 Riverside Country Club