Nine Web.com Tour players to compete in U.S. Open
June 13, 2018
By Stewart Moore, PGATOUR.COM
- June 13, 2018
- Roberto Castro qualified to compete in his fifth U.S. Open via a playoff birdie at the Georgia sectional qualifier. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The 118th U.S. Open begins Thursday morning at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, and in the 156-player field are nine current Web.com Tour members, highlighted by leading money winner Sungjae Im of South Korea.
Im, who won the season-opening The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, has sat atop the Web.com Tour money list each week this season, with his 2018-19 PGA TOUR card mathematically secured thanks to $301,288 in earnings. The week on Long Island will represent a career-first major championship appearance for the prodigious 20-year-old.
Of the nine players in the field, five are currently inside the top 25 on the money list, including Im, Sebastián Muñoz, Sam Burns, Roberto Castro and Eric Axley.
Muñoz, who is currently eighth on the money list with four top-10 finishes on the season, made his major championship debut at the 2017 Open Championship, where he missed the cut with rounds of 74-79—153. The native Colombian was a PGA TOUR member for the 2016-17 season, posting eight made cuts in 17 starts, including a career-best T3 at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier.
Burns, who famously dueled with Tiger Woods in the final round of this year’s Honda Classic, will be making his second appearance in the U.S. Open, while Castro and Axley will be making their 12th and eighth career major championship starts, respectively.
Axley, who won the Web.com Tour’s inaugural North Mississippi Classic in April, finished T9 at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where Woods won his last major championship title in a Monday playoff over Rocco Mediate. Axley opened with a 2-under 69 to sit tied for third after 18 holes before closing with rounds of 79-71-69 to finish the week at 4-over 288, five shots back of the playoff.
The remaining Web.com Tour players in the U.S. Open field include Michael Hebert, Tim Wilkinson, Michael Putnam and Chris Naegel.
The 27-year-old Hebert, who turned professional in 2014, will be making his major championship debut this week after competing on the Web.com Tour in each of the last five years. During that time, the former Auburn University standout has notched three top-10 finishes, including a career-best-tying T5 at this year’s North Mississippi Classic.
“I’m excited just to see what it’s like. Obviously (playing in) a major championship, my first major championship, is going to be a real thrill. I’m excited,” said Hebert.
Naegel miraculously advanced through sectional qualifying at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas, thanks to a birdie-birdie-bogey-birdie-eagle finish to force a playoff with Blaine Hale for the final spot. The Missouri resident, who converted a 40-foot putt for his closing birdie, made birdie on the first playoff hole to secure his first career start in the U.S. Open.
After missing guaranteed Web.com Tour starts by one shot at Final Stage of the Qualifying Tournament in December, the 35-year-old gained entry into just two 2018 events prior to the Nashville Golf Open Benefitting the Snedeker Foundation in late May, into which he Monday qualified. Naegel took advantage with a T7 finish, crucial in ensuring a place to play for the rest of the season. He carries a streak of three straight made cuts to Shinnecock Hills, and when he tees it up Thursday, it will mark a 180-degree change in mind frame from a month ago, when he was considering a career change.
“It’s awesome. This place is unreal and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a little different than your week-in, week-out Tour event,” Naegel said on Golf Channel Wednesday morning. “It’s going to be fun. They’ve got quite the production set up here.”
Since 1990, former Web.com Tour players have won 23 major championships and eight PLAYERS Championships. Ernie Els (1994, 1997), Jim Furyk (2003), Lucas Glover (2009) and Webb Simpson (2012) are the players who have successfully claimed U.S. Open titles after competing on the Web.com Tour.