U.S. Open qualifier teed up for Oakmont

GLENDALE — For 90 golfers, the road to qualify for the 110th United States Open Championship begins Monday in Glendale.

The field, which will include a dozen area residents looking to make their inaugural appearance in the prestigious championship, will take to fabled Oakmont Country Club in hopes of advancing. The local qualifier starts at 7:30 a.m.

A solid 18-hole round will move them one step closer to the championship, which will be held June 17-20 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach.

Local qualifying events will have been held at 111 sites between May 7 and Thursday. The top-six finishers from each venue will move on to the sectional qualifying. The sectionals, played over 36 holes, will be held at two international sites on May 24 and 13 sites in the United States on June 7. Qualifiers can play their sectional at the site of their choice.

La Crescenta resident Brett Kanda, who is an Oakmont club member, said playing on a familiar course and trying to qualify for his first professional championship have him energized.

"To have the first stage on my home course is great," said Kanda, who recently graduated from UNLV and was the 2005 All-Area Boys' Golfer of the Year. "Even though it has undergone some renovations, I still know those greens.

"It's an important time of my career and I've been preparing for it for a long time. It means everything to me because Pebble Beach is my favorite course and I would love to have my pro debut be up there.

"I've based the whole year around these next four weeks. I'm playing real well right now and I just have to go out there and stay patient."

Among the other area residents expected to participate in Monday's event are Mike Wachtler, Soohwan Kim, Tae Sik Kang and Marco Fortades of Glendale, Justin Yu of Montrose, Keith Kinsel, Scott Lorenz and Anton Arboleda of La Cañada Flintridge, Dominic Lingua, a Crescenta Valley High graduate, and John Zeigler and Jonathan Goglia of Burbank.

Oakmont, which underwent major renovations in 2009, isn't a stranger to hosting top events. Oakmont hosted the LPGA Valley of the Stars Tournament Tour in 1999 that saw Catrin Nilsmark top favorite Annika Sorenstam on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. The club has also hosted the Southern California Golf Assn. Amateur Championship five times, in addition to being the site of the Pacific-10 Conference Men's Golf Championship in 2003. The last major event played at the course was in 2008, when it co-hosted the 97th rendition of the California Amateur Championship with Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake.

Oakmont General Manager Michael Hyler said the club is eager to host another large event.

"It's an honor for us to have it at our club," Hyler said. "It's a chance to see some of the top golfers in the country.

"It's a dream for the golfers to have a chance at possibly making the U.S. Open. They'll be slugging it out."

According to the United States Golf Assn. website, more than 9,052 entries were accepted, the second-most in history. A record 9,086 entries were accepted for the 2009 U.S. Open, which was won by Lucas Glover at Bethpage State Park's Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y.

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