After two postponements because of snow and with a thunderstorm threatening as play finished, five Colorado golfers took a step closer to the U.S. Open on Wednesday.
Alex Kephart and David Schroeder II of Colorado Springs, Derek Tolan of Highlands Ranch and Brandon Bingaman of Montrose shot even-par 70s and Derek Fribbs of Castle Rock carded a 1-over 71 at The Broadmoor's West Course to advance to the sectional qualifying stage for the 2014 U.S. Open Championship. They will go on to tee it up at one of 13 36-hole sectional qualifying tournaments across the country June 2 for a chance to earn berths in the prestigious event, which will be held June 12-15 at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C.
The postponements led to 22 withdrawals, reducing the field to 62 players for Wednesday's 18 holes. Tournament organizers played the eighth hole as a par-4, making the course a par 70, and players navigated their way over just more than 7,100 yards of plush greenery at the renowned resort.
Kephart, the reigning Colorado Springs City Championship winner, overcame a double-bogey on the eighth hole and a bogey on nine with birdies on 13 and 15 to return to even par and advance to the sectional round. Kephart, who plays at Eisenhower Golf Club, admitted he had to overcome some butterflies during his round.
"I made a couple of birdies coming in on the back nine, but I was just trying to keep the nerves at ease," said Kephart, who is attempting to qualify for the U.S. Open for the first time. "I definitely don't feel like I'm in midseason form, so I'm just trying to hit it as well as I can, and I putted great."
Schroeder - a Cheyenne Mountain graduate who has been competing on the mini tours the past year - was 3-under heading into his final two holes, the eighth and ninth, before running into trouble. He bogeyed the eighth and chipped his way to a double bogey on the par-3 ninth to fall back to par.
"It was a sloppy finish after such a solid day," said Schroeder, who played at Fort Lewis College in college. "The big picture though, hopefully it's good enough. I grew up playing here, so it was nice to play well here."
Tolan, who plays on the Web.com Tour, posted the first 70 of the day after tallying three birdies and three bogeys. He would love to appear in another U.S. Open after qualifying for the tournament in 2002 as a 16-year-old.
"I played really solid and felt like I played a lot better than even par," said Tolan, who played collegiate golf at Colorado-Boulder. "I thought the course played really hard, conditions were tough and the pins were tough. I chipped and putted extraordinary today."
Bingaman hit his tee shot out of bounds on the first hole en route to a double bogey, but recovered with birdies on the third and fourth holes. He birdied the 17th hole to return to even par after bogeying 16 and was all smiles after advancing.
"I capitalized on the good shots I did hit," said Bingaman, a Colorado Mesa graduate. "I'm missing with the driver a little bit, but I managed to get around the golf course pretty well."
Coronado sophomore Isaac Petersilie shot a 3-over 73 to earn a place in a five-player playoff for the final alternate spot, but was eliminated in the playoff.