By Steve Virgen
3:16 AM EDT, June 2, 2013
Jake Knapp will admit he didn't make the best of decisions back in late February.
The former Estancia High golf standout is not one to sit around. He played in a pick-up basketball game at UCLA, where he is on the golf team. Unfortunately he suffered an injury, a small fracture to a tiny bone in his left wrist.
It was tough to sit out for two months, but he considered himself lucky the injury wasn't worse. He nearly flipped when jumping for a rebound and landed on his wrist as he was trying to break his fall, he said.
Knapp's life is filled with decisions, from nailing down his academic major (he remains undeclared) to figuring out what course to play on his 19th birthday (it was Friday and he played Monarch Beach). There are decisions at each tee, for each shot. He must know when to go hard and when to go at it smoothly.
His decisions will be put to the test once again Monday along with several high-level players in the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier at Newport Beach and Big Canyon country clubs.
It's billed as golf's longest day. With regard to golf events that have taken place in Newport Beach, this is among the greatest.
An impressive field, that features Orange County star Beau Hossler, will be vying to grab a spot in the U.S. Open, to be played June 10-16 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Penn.
There will be five qualifying spots out of the Newport Beach sectional Monday.
Knapp, though he is still regaining strength in his left wrist, is playing to gain that spot. Knapp, who is right-handed, gained confidence when he won a playoff against two others to earn a spot to play Monday out of the local qualifier at Bermuda Dunes Country Club May 13.
Just four days after getting cleared to play, Knapp shot an even-par 72 and then birdied the par-five No. 1 hole to win the playoff.
"I was pretty excited to be in a playoff," Knapp said of his thoughts after his round at Bermuda Dunes.
Knapp said he had to wait around to later find out he was in a playoff.
"I wanted to be in that situation," he said. "I was only practicing for four days before the event. It was my first time playing since late February."
Now Knapp is excited to be playing in such an important event so close to where he grew up. He is quite familiar with Newport Beach Country Club.
Last year, he topped the field at the U.S. Open local qualifier with a 10-under 61, one stroke shy of the course record.
He says he thinks about the score now, but he won't be once the action begins on Monday morning.
He gained popularity back then with that score, but he knows more attention can come from being the best on Monday.
For an example, he can look to his friend Hossler, who burst onto the scene at last year's Open.
"I'm excited for all the success he's had," Knapp said of Hossler. "But being a competitor, you want to have the same success. But I'm definitely happy for him."
Hossler isn't the only well-known golfer at Monday's sectional qualifier.
Max Homa, the Cal star fresh off his NCAA national championship, is in Monday's field.
Former Orange Coast College golfer Lyon Lazare, who tied for first at Bermuda Dunes, will also be playing 18 holes at Newport Beach and 18 at Big Canyon. He won the Costa Mesa City Championship in August.
Hale Irwin is known for his great play at Newport Beach as part of the Toshiba Classic. He's the tournament's lone two-time winner. His son, Steven, who played at the Open at Congressional in 2011, will be playing in Newport Beach on Monday.
The field also includes Andy Miller, the son of 1973 U.S. Open champ and NBC analyst Johnny Miller. Andy Miller was a four-time All-American at Brigham Young and tied for 62nd at the 2002 U.S. Open.
Chris Riley, the 2002 Reno-Tahoe Open champion and member of the 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup team, starts at Newport Beach at 7 a.m.
Knapp starts on No. 10 at Newport Beach at 7:44 a.m. Coincidentally, he started on 10 last year when he shot his 61.