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Tommy Masters, Bhavik Patel advance at U.S. Open qualifying

They call the U.S. Open golf's "most democratic major" because on any given year, any amateur who meets the handicap requirements can compete to be in the field. This year that competition takes place at 111 sites, including one in Fresno.

What are the odds someone Monday at Sunnyside Country Club will win next month's U.S. Open?

Realistically, not that great.

But last year eight players advanced through local and sectional qualifying to make the cut, the most since 1997.

Of course, to put it in perspective, that's from a group of around 9,000.

The field Monday at Sunnyside was 90, with the top five advancing as well as two alternates. Fresno's Mike Springer, who won twice on the PGA Tour in the mid-90's, shot a three-over-par-75 to finish in the middle of the pack.

It was a different story for ex-Bulldog Bhavik Patel, one of ten golfers to finish in red numbers.

Patel shot a five-under-67 Monday, which included an eagle on his last hole. His score tied for second-best so Patel, who's on the Web.com Tour, advances to sectional qualifying next month.

So does Tommy Masters, a Fresno golf pro and the medalist at Sunnyside with nine birdies and a six-under-66.

"I expected to play well," said the 52-year-old Masters. "I've been playing really good golf on the limited schedule I get to play. And I know this golf course really well. I expected to come out here and compete."

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