Correction: in the video, it was incorrectly stated that there were 10 local qualifying sites in the United States, when in fact, there are 108 this year.
MADERA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Former Fresno State standout golfer Alex Lee headlined a group of golfers with Central Valley ties who took the first step Monday, towards a possible appearance in next month’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
The U.S. Open is open to any professional golfer or an amateur with a handicap index of 1.4 or lower.
Dragonfly Golf Club in Madera hosted one of the 108 local qualifiers taking place in the United States this year. It featured 76 golfers who finished their rounds, with five available spots up for grabs into final qualifying, which used to be known as sectional qualifying.
With former Fresno State Assistant Athletic Director Paul Ladwig caddying for him, Lee finished with a 7-under 66, as he earned medalist honors.
Lee played at Fresno State from 2015-19 and twice competed in the NCAA Regionals (2018 & 2019).
“I’m really happy today. I mean, I played really solid all day,” said Lee, who opened his round with four straight birdies. “It was really stress free, drove the ball well, had control of my irons and made a couple putts, so really happy with the round.”
Lee is back living at home in Sacramento, and has mainly been playing mini-tour events, as he gets ready for Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School. He had status on the Asian Developmental Tour, before COVID shut that tour down last year.
Current Bulldog golfer Kevin Huff also advanced, as he posted a 5-under 68 and finished in a four-way tie for second, as well as former Clovis North standout Blake Hathcoat, who also played at Saint Mary’s.
Also in that four-way tie and advancing to final qualifying was Clovis West alum Michael Weaver. While playing his college golf at Cal, Weaver was the runner-up at the 2012 U.S. Amateur, and played in the Masters and the U.S. Open the following year.
Weaver was 2-over through his first five holes on Monday, but played his last 13 holes in 7-under, which included birdies on his final two holes, the par-5 17th and the par-5 18th.
“I was playing terrible, as of like two weeks ago,” said Weaver, who pursued a professional golf career after Cal, but recently decided to focus primarily on his new career as a financial planner. “I went out and played with some friends last week, and didn’t really have any expectations. Had a couple things I was working on, and it kind of clicked. And fortunately, my game came around at the right time.”
The five golfers who advanced on Monday, will next compete in final qualifying on either May 24 or June 7. Final qualifying, played over 36 holes, will be conducted at 10 U.S. sites. One is set for Monday, May 24, in Texas, while nine are scheduled on June 7: two in Ohio and one each in California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, South Carolina and Washington.