Scott Stallings got into the U.S. Open field Tuesday after Roger Chapman withdrew. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Scott Stallings only got into the U.S. Open on Tuesday evening, but he’s already been to Merion Golf Club. He was there eight years ago as a caddie, looping for Tennessee Tech teammate Braxton Hunter in the 2005 U.S. Amateur.
Stallings clearly remembers Hunter’s tee shot on Merion’s first hole. “We’re two guys from a small school. We’re super pumped to be there. We’d never seen a golf course like Merion,” Stallings said. “Then we watch a guy in the group in front of us cold top it off the first tee. Braxton hit the best 3-wood of his life. He stripes, twirls the club and everything. It lands in the fairway on a sprinkler head, takes a huge bounce and goes out of bounds.”
Hunter went on to miss the cut, shooting 91 at Merion and 77 at Philadelphia Country Club. Stallings heard during the week that Merion was slated to host a future U.S. Open, though at an undetermined date. “I thought it would be awesome to play,” he said.
He got in the field after U.S. Senior Open champion Roger Chapman withdrew because of a shoulder injury. Stallings first thought the phone call from the USGA was a prank pulled by one of his friends. It was real, and meant Stallings would be making his first career U.S. Open start. He’s in good form as the Open nears, finishing T-4 in his past two TOUR starts (Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance).
Stallings played sectional qualifying Monday at Memphis’ Colonial Country Club, shooting 70-69 before losing in a 3-for-2 playoff to TOUR players Alistair Presnell and Andrew Svoboda. Stallings birdied four of his final five holes to get into the playoff, then made bogey on the first playoff hole.
He said he was headed to Merion regardless if he was an alternate or a member of the field. His agent, former TOUR player Jimmy Johnston, told him, “If you have a chance to go, whether you’re in or out, you need to go.”
Stallings will be at Merion. Not as a caddie. Not as an alternate. As a competitor.