U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying

Former Fort Collins resident Sam Saunders qualifies for his third U.S. Open after shooting 29 on first 9

By Gary Baines – 06/03/2019

Former Fort Collins resident Sam Saunders has had a rough season on the PGA Tour. He has yet to finish in the top 25 in any tournament and currently sits 183rd on the 2018-19 money list.

But on Monday, Arnold Palmer’s grandson hit upon on some success — at least for a day. The result was the 31-year-old landed a spot in the U.S. Open for the third time.

This time, Saunders (pictured) will be headed to Pebble Beach, where the Open is scheduled for June 13-16.

On a day in which 10 36-hole Sectional Qualifying tournaments were held in the U.S., Canada and England, Saunders finished third at the Columbus, Ohio site where many PGA Tour players competed. The top 14 in Columbus advance to the Open.

Saunders backed up an 8-under-par 64 with a 1-under 69 for a 9-under 133 total. The only players better than him at the site were Luke Guthrie of Jacksonville Beach, Fla. (131) and Anirban Lahiri of India (132).

Saunders birdied his first four holes and played his first nine of the day in 7-under-par 29. Overall for 36 holes, he finished with 12 birdies and three bogeys.

In Saunders’ previous U.S. Open appearances, he finished 50th in 2015 and missed the cut in 2011.

In all, 24 players with strong Colorado connections competed in Sectionals. Several were within a few strokes of qualifying: former Golden resident Andrew Svoboda fell two shots shy of a playoff in Purchase, N.Y.; Colorado Christian University golfer Chase Carlson was four behind the final qualifier in Walla Walla, Wash.; Coloradan Michael Schoolcraft fell four short of a playoff in Ontario, Canada; and on May 20 in Dallas, Jim Knous of Littleton missed a playoff by two.

Here are the Sectional results for all players with strong Colorado ties:

COLUMBUS, OHIO, 121 players for 14 spots


3. Former Fort Collins resident Sam Saunders 64-69–133

Failed to Qualify

43. Former Coloradan Wyndham Clark 70-73–143

WALLA WALLA, Wash., 55 players for 3 spots

Failed to Qualify

13. Colorado Christian golfer Chase Carlson 71-70–141

23. Kevin Stadler of Denver 71-74–145

35. DU golfer Carson Griggs 77-71–148

PURCHASE, N.Y., 73 players for 4 spots

Failed to Qualify

8. Former Golden resident Andrew Svoboda 68-77–145

18. Former Coloradan Tom Kalinowski 75-72–147

SPRINGFIELD, OHIO, 73 players for 5 spots

Failed to Qualify

60. Zahkai Brown of Golden 73-78–151

66. Jake Kelley of Littleton 78-75–153

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF., 99 players for 5 spots

Failed to Qualify

25. Former Fort Collins resident Matthew Liringis 72-68–140

35. Greg Condon of Monte Vista 68-74–142

40. Former DU golfer Jeremy Paul 72-71–143

40. Former DU golfer Chris Gilman 77-66–143

48. Colin Prater of Colorado Springs 73-71–144

82. Dylan Wonnacott of Lyons 78-72–150

94. Aaron Fankhauser of Arvada 84-74–158

STREAMSONG, FLA., 56 players for 3 spots

Failed to Qualify

36. Griffin Barela of Lakewood 74-76–150

48. Ross Macdonald of Castle Rock 76-82–158

BALL GROUND, GA., 67 players for 4 spots

Failed to Qualify

31. Former Fort Collins resident Tom Whitney 74-69–143

ROCKVILLE, MD., 63 players for 4 spots

Failed to Qualify

38. Matt Call of Castle Rock 77-76–153

MILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA, 37 players for 4 spots

Failed to Qualify

9. Michael Schoolcraft of Denver 71-73–144

DALLAS (MAY 20), 102 players for 11 spots

Failed to Qualify

19. Jim Knous of Littleton 66-73–139

32. Former CSU golfer Martin Laird 69-73–142

Denver native Mark Hubbard 73-WD