You, me, the shoe salesman, the Wall Street broker or the school janitor can qualify for the United States Open.
All you need is $150 and some serious game.
"It's the national championship. You're honored," said Modesto's Patrick Burda, who has entered the Open qualifying for the first time. "Other than the U.S. Amateur, it's the most important tournament for most of us."
May is a month of wonder for golfers. They fantasize about teeing it up alongside Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam or Phil Mickelson in the nation's biggest golf event. The Open gives them their chance.
The United States Golf Association received 8,390 entries, all with handicap indexes not exceeding 1.4, for the Open. For the women's Open, 1,236 players with indexes no higher than 4.4 have registered. All told, contestants span from ages 11 to 79 from all 50 states and 68 foreign countries.
All chasing the same dream.
"You should be proud to sign up for it," said Burda, Del Rio Country Club's reigning champion. "One good round and who knows?"
The process starts this month with 18-hole Local Qualifying, followed next month by 36-hole Sectional Qualifying. If you're good enough, you're Open-bound.
Del Rio, one of 111 sites for Local Qualifying, welcomes 90 players vying for six berths Monday, May 19. Burda joins Mitch Lowe, Will Bossard and Jeff Mullen of Modesto; Jared Rankins of Ripon; John Cook and Ben Van Vuren of Turlock; and Josh Ramey of Ripon in the field. Elsewhere, among the other four Local Qualifying sites in Northern California, Canadian Tour pro Marc Peterson on Modesto tries at CordeValle near San Jose. Ryan Thornberry of Ceres, another CanTour pro, and Johansen High sophomore Daniel Covrig travel to Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz.
The six survivors advance to Lake Merced CC in Daly City for the Sectional and, from there, the best advance to the Open from June 12-15 at Torrey Pines near San Diego.
The women's Local will be held Monday at Half Moon Bay. Modesto's Marina Martinez and Chris Dewar, and Golden Valley High junior Belen Hernandez of Merced spice a field of 72 battling for 16 berths. The 36-hole Sectional, staged in Southern California this year, will lead to the Women's Open at Interlachen, June 26-29 in Edina, Minn.
THE SHAG BAG — Modesto pros Sue Fiscoe, Larry Alvarado and George Price are providing free 10-minute one-on-one lessons during PGA Free Lesson Month. More than 820,000 quick tuneups have been given since the program began in 1998. "We can't rebuild someone's game in 10 minutes, but we can improve your weakest link," Fiscoe said. "We start with a five-minute interview and find out where the player is struggling, and then we give one or two tips to help." Call 571-5123. ...
Patrick Burda (70-73-70-72 — 285) tied for 12th, 11 strokes behind victorious Cal senior Michael Jensen, in the 81st Alameda Commuters at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex. Oakdale's Jamie Looper (69-73-73-74 — 289) tied for 28th, two-time Commuters champion Ken Webb of Turlock (73-75-75-70 — 293) tied for 31st, and Modesto's Marco Dusi (73-75-73-74 — 295) tied for 37th. ... Stonebrae, a new private club in Hayward, high atop the East Bay hills, will replace Wente Vineyards in Livermore on the 2009 Nationwide Tour. The young pros already are relieved. Wente was ranked the toughest Nationwide course in 2006 and '07. The Livermore event was well-run, and the expectations bar will be set high for the Stonebrae Classic.
Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2302.