June 7, 2005
ATLANTA – There will be three former Georgia Tech All-America players in the field when competition commences in next week’s United States Open golf championship at Pinehurst, N.C. Matt Kuchar made it through sectional qualifying Tuesday at East Lake Golf Club by winning a playoff for the sixth and final spot.
Kuchar joins Stewart Cink, a three-time All-American and 1995 national player of the year who is exempt into the Open by finishing in the top 30 on last year’s PGA Tour money list, and David Duval, a four-time All-American and 1993 national player of the year who is exempt by virtue of his 2001 triumph in the British Open.
Cink has four PGA Tour victories and currently ranks 28th on the 2005 money list with $1,124,498. He has qualified for the U.S. Open every year since 1996, earning three top-10 finishes and five in the top 20. The Florence, Ala., native was third in 2001, missing a playoff eventually won by Retief Goosen at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.
Duval has won 13 times on the PGA Tour and has more than $16 million in career earnings. He has qualified for the Open every year since 1995, and tied for seventh in his highest finishes in 1998 and 1999. He also played in two Opens while a student-athlete at Tech, making one cut and tying for 56th in 1990.
The 1997 U.S. Amateur champion and a two-time first-team All-American, Kuchar shot rounds of 69 and 66 for a 36-hole total of 135 (5-under-par) Tuesday, then won a three-way, two-hole playoff to win the spot over Mike Springer of Fresno, Calif., and Pat Bates of Boca Raton, Fla. Kuchar then parred both playoff holes, while Bates missed a four-foot putt for bogey on the first playoff hole, then Springer bogeyed the second.
Owner of one PGA Tour victory (2002 Honda Classic), Kuchar will be playing in his fourth U.S. Open. He tied for 14th at the 1998 Open, while he was still at Georgia Tech, and missed the cut in 1999 and 2002. He has won $146,138 in official money on the tour this year, his best performance a tie for 10th at the MCI Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C.
Only one of Georgia Tech’s current players made it past local qualifying for the Open. Rising sophomore David Dragoo of Scottsdale, Ariz., advanced out of a qualifying tournament in Pueblo, Colo., but shot 78-77 in his sectional qualifying event. Troy Matteson, the 2002 NCAA Champion and current Nationwide Tour money leader, shot 66 in Monday’s first round at East Lake but withdrew after play in the second round was suspended due to weather in order to make it to this week’s tour event.