June 6, 2012
ATLANTA – PGA Tour rookie Roberto Castro captured the final spot in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier Tuesday in Germantown, Tenn., becoming the fourth Georgia Tech golf alumnus to make into the field for next week’s 112th U.S. Open Golf Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif.
Castro, a 2007 Tech graduate who earned his Tour card this year for the first time, tied for the ninth and final qualifying spot at the sectional at Germantown Country Club after firing rounds of 69 and 67 Tuesday, then beat out Bobby Wyatt of Mobile, Ala., and Kyle Thompson of Greenville, S.C., on the fourth hole of a sudden death playoff to earn the berth.
“The key was staying patient,” Castro told the media afterward. “I shot two good scores. I thought I played smart.”
He joins 2005 graduate Nicholas Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., who qualified by tying for third place in the sectional at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., on Monday, and PGA Tour veterans Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar in the 156-player field for the event, which begins next Thursday, June 14.
It is the first Open appearance for Castro, and the second for Thompson, who missed the cut at Winged Foot in 2006.
Castro has made nine cuts in 12 events on the PGA Tour this year, posted two top-25 finishes and earned more than $300,000. He ranks 109th in FedEx Cup points. Thompson is playing on the Nationwide Tour this year after two years on the PGA Tour, has posted two top-10 finishes and ranked 45th in earnings.
Kuchar was exempt into the Open based on his position among the top 60 players in the Official World Ranking as of May 21, his victory in the Players Championship earlier this spring and his qualifying for last year’s Tour Championship. Cink’s 2008 British Open Championship keeps him exempt in the U.S. Open through next year.
Kuchar returns to the site of his first U.S. Open appearance in 1998, when he made the field by virtue of his winning the 1997 U.S. Amateur. He tied for 14th place there that year and earned a return trip. In six U.S. Opens, his best finish was a tie for sixth in 2010 at Pebble Beach.
Cink will compete in his 17th U.S. Open, and his best finish remains third place at the 2001 Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., when he missed an 18-hole playoff with Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks by one shot.
James White, who graduated from Tech in May, came the closest to qualifying among the remaining Yellow Jacket alumni and current players. He finished fifth with rounds of 70-71 Monday at the River Club in Suwanee, Ga., and is the second alternate from that qualifier.