Olympia’s Andres Gonzales wants to envision Oakmont Country Club as the hardest, meanest golf course in the world.
That way, when he actually sees it next week for the 116th United States Open championship, he won’t be so spooked.
Gonzales, a Capital High School graduate and UNLV product, qualified for his second career U.S. Open on Monday by scorching both courses — Germantown Country Club and Ridgeway Country Club — at the sectional site in Memphis, Tennessee.
He shot 64 at Germantown, highlighted by an eagle-3 to close out his first nine holes in the morning round. In the afternoon, he shot 68 to finish at 11-under-par 131, tying fellow PGA Tour player D.J. Trahan for medalist honors.
“I felt like I had a good chance (to qualify) after the first round,” Gonzales said. “But you have to really not get ahead of yourself. It is a long day, and anything can happen.”
He opened with three consecutive birdies at Germantown, then hit a hybrid-iron approach into the ninth hole, a dogleg-right par 5. He rolled in a 30-foot putt for eagle to move to 5-under.
Gonzales finished the 36-hole qualifier by making 11 birdies and an eagle.
The only other time Gonzales made it out of U.S. Open sectional qualifying was 2011 at Tunica National in Mississippi. He went on to play the national open at Congressional Country Club near Washington, D.C.
“It was my first major, and I was fairly nervous,” Gonzales said. “I am excited to go back now that I am more seasoned.”
Oh yeah, he has learned about Oakmont’s crazy-fast, bending greens — some of the toughest in the world to manage.
“I feel pretty good about my short game,” Gonzales said. “I am excited for the test. It is going to be hard. They (USGA officials) are going to set it up crazy.”
Cassidy makes run at Royal Oaks
Yelm’s John Cassidy did not get the phone call until late Sunday night.
As the first alternate out of local U.S. Open qualifying at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum a few weeks ago, Cassidy was planning on playing a pro-am at Rainier Golf and Country Club.
But after Daniel Miernicki withdrew, a USGA official called Cassidy at 11 p.m. to tell him he was in the sectional tournament at Royal Oaks Country Club in Vancouver.
“I did not play a practice round. I had no caddie. And I had not hit (golf) balls for three days,” Cassidy said. “But it is the U.S. Open. You have to try.”
And Cassidy was hanging in there at 3 under and two strokes off the lead when he made birdie at the seventh hole of his afternoon round.
But on the next hole, a par 3, his tee shot carried to the back fringe. And he ran his first putt 8 feet by the hole — and missed the second one coming back, ending up with bogey.
He then bogeyed the 10th, 11th and 12th holes to fall off the pace. He ended up finished at 1-over 145, tying for 21st.
Olympia’s Jarred Bossio finished in 64th at 164.