DALY CITY — It took more than the allotted 36 holes at The Olympic Club and Lake Merced Golf Club to finalize the six golfers who qualified for the U.S. Open on Monday.
After a three-man, sudden death playoff on the tenth hole at Lake Merced, 29-year-old Brandon Harkins secured the sixth and final berth from the sectional, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
“I’m in shock,” Harkins said, moments after sinking the 12-foot birdie putt that clinched it.
“Golf’s longest day” lived up to it’s moniker. The day’s first tee times were at 7:00 a.m. Harkins’ final putt fell shortly after 7:30 p.m.
After the 36 tournament holes, five players were assured spots in the upcoming major championship, hosted for the ninth time by Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh.
San Jose native Justin Suh, 19, was the lone amateur and youngest player to qualify, posting a nine-under-par 134.
“I’m just speechless,” Suh said.
The berth adds to an already impressive resume, qualifying for the USGA Junior Amateur Championship a four times — a rare feat. While he’s won numerous amateur tournaments, he’ll look to take his record of success to the next level at Oakmont.
“History’s been made on that course over and over again, and to be able to go there and be a part of that, it’s just incredible,” he said.
Miguel Tabuena of The Philippines is the only non-Californian to qualify from the sectional. He finished with the low score of the day, firing an 11-under-par 132. Tabuena came in as one of the most successful professionals in this field.
At 21 years old, he already has eight professional wins under his belt on The Asian Tour and the Philippine Golf Tour. He heads to his first major championship ranked no. 126 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Gregor Main, 26, of Danville, and Whittier native Mark Anguiano, 23, both tied Suh for second place at 9-under-par.
Tyler Raber, who grew up in El Macero and played his college golf at UC Davis, showed a flair for the dramatic as he birdied the final two holes of the day to finish at 7-under-par and avoid the sudden death playoff.
Harkins, who grew up in Lafayette, couldn’t avoid such fate.
Following an up-and-down second round, Harkins hit a masterful second shot on the par-five ninth to give him an 18-foot putt for eagle that would have clinched his berth. (Harkins’ group started its round on the 10th, so the ninth was their final hole.)
“My brother was caddying for me, and we pretty much knew where we stood down the stretch,” Harkins said. “I knew if I could make the putt on nine, it was sealed, but it lipped out.”
And so the drama continued for one more hole. But Harkins made quick and easy work of the short par-four, sinking a birdie putt that eliminated the other two contestants before finding tear-filled hugs from his girlfriend and mom.