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Four Carolinians Qualify for 2017 U.S. Open

 Scott Harvey and Steve Stricker walk down the fairway during a practice round ahead of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (June 14, 2017) -- In addition to the CGA alumni who have earned exemptions into the field, four CGA alums advanced through qualifying to make the 117th U.S. Open Championship to be played at Erin Hills in Erin, Wisconsin from June 15-18.

The exact number eluded Scott Harvey (a), the top-ranked mid-amateur in the world. He might have tried unsuccessfully to qualify for the U.S. Open 10 times, or maybe it was an even dozen. It didn’t matter. On June 5th, a tie for second in sectional qualifying made Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, one of five golfers in the site’s 80-man field to advance to Erin Hills. “How does it feel? Pretty damn cool,” said Harvey, of Greensboro, N.C., who led after a 9-under-par 63 in the morning, then sealed a spot with an afternoon 1-over 71. “I’m a 39-year-old amateur, and I’m going to play in the U.S. Open. I don’t even know how to describe it.” For Harvey – a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team and runner-up in the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur – advancing to Erin Hills was emotional not only because of the many attempts he had made but because playing in a U.S. Open was one of the few things in the game that eluded his father, Bill, one of America’s finest amateurs in the 1960s and 1970s.

Alex Smalley (a), a rising junior at Duke University, earned his first trip to the U.S. Open by shooting 7-under-par 137 in his sectional qualifier to grab co-medalist honors. The 2014 North Carolina Junior champion, Smalley began his road to Erin Hills through a local qualifier conducted at River Landing in Wallace, N.C. Smalley, 20, of Wake Forest, N.C., helped Duke reach the NCAA Men’s Championship. A year ago, Smalley earned medalist honors in the U.S. Amateur Championship. Despite his many achievements, earning a spot in the U.S. Open has a special meaning for Smalley. “It's setting in a little bit right now,” he said. “I can't wait to get up there. It will be unreal when I get up there.” Smalley made a 6-foot par putt on the final hole to secure his spot in the U.S. Open. He said he wasn’t overly nervous because it was a scene he’d played out in his mind many times. “I'm thinking, how many 6-footers have you had on the practice green, saying this is to win the Open,” said Smalley. “It's kind of similar. So, it was a good feeling to make that and get in.”

Kyle Thompson of Greenville, S.C, the 1996 Carolinas Junior Boys' champion, will play in his second U.S. Open after shooting rounds of 68-69—137 to punch his ticket to Erin Hills. Thompson, 38, won on the Tour in the Bahamas earlier this year. Thompson, a University of South Carolina alum, remembers missing a par putt on the last hole to miss out on a 3-for-1 playoff at U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying in 2011. At the time, he slammed his trunk in frustration, but over the next three weeks, his top-three finishes on the Tour “solidified my entire career and got me my PGA Tour card back,” Thompson said. “So you never know how everything is going to go.”  Thompson has won the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, N.C., three times. 

J.T. Poston, 24, will be competing in his first major championship. A Hickory, N.C. native who attended Western Carolina University, Poston shot a pair of 66s with his lone bogey coming at twilight on the final hole of his sectional qualifier to finish at 12-under 132, earning medalist honors. “It’s pretty exciting to play in a U.S. Open, our home major. I watched it as a kid and it will be great to be in that atmosphere,” said Poston.

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