Golf: Vulcans alumnus Nick Mason qualifies for U.S. Open


Nick Mason’s impressive Hawaii golfing resume lists two victories at the Mid-Pacific Open, as well as four wins at the Hilo Invitational.

On Monday, the University of Hawaii at Hilo alumnus took his game national.

Mason carded a 3-under 141 in a 36-hole sectional in Rockville, Maryland, to earn a spot in the U.S. Open.

The national championship will be held June 12-15 in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Mason fired rounds of 70 and 71 to finish in a three-way tie for second as four players at Woodmont Country Club earned Open berths. Billy Hurley III, a former Navy officer, earned one of the other spots while Taylor Funk, the 18-year-old son of Fred Funk, shot 76 in his second round at Woodmont and missed the mark by three shots.

Perhaps the biggest name to qualify via the 10 sectional tournaments held across the country on Monday was Justin Leonard. The 1997 British Open champion, who has won 12 times on the PGA Tour but not since 2008, was among the 16 players at the Columbus, Ohio, site who qualified for the U.S. Open.

“It’ll be fun,” said Leonard, who’ll turn 42 on the day of the Open’s final round. “And Pinehurst is one of my favorites, so a little extra incentive there.”

Leonard was co-medalist through 36 holes on Monday at Brookside and Scioto. He tied for 15th at the Open in Pinehurst in 1999 when Payne Stewart won and tied for 23rd in the 2005 championship won by Michael Campbell.

Among those also qualifying were Bo Van Pelt, Mark Wilson, Kevin Tway and Luke Guthrie, South Korea’s Seung-Yul Noh and Hyung Sung Kim, Australia’s Aaron Baddeley and Rod Pampling and England’s Paul Casey.

The Columbus site featured the most PGA Tour players. Another big tour site was in Memphis, Tennessee, where David Toms, J.B. Holmes, Joe Ogilvie and David Gossett were among the 13 to earn spots. Gossett, a former PGA Tour winner, was an alternate out of 18-hole local qualifying.

In San Francisco, Jason Gore failed to earn one of five spots. Gore played in the final group in 2005 and was referred to as the “Prince of Pinehurst.” One of the spots went to Kevin Sutherland, a former World Golf Championship winner. Sutherland recently received an exemption to the U.S. Senior Open this summer after turning 50. He last played a PGA Tour event in August.

Now that Monday’s qualifying is over, 150 players are in the U.S. Open. Six spots remaining will be for anyone who gets into the top 60 in the world ranking after this week, and the rest will be distributed to alternates. The order of alternates was not released.