Dean Burmester booked his place at Pebble Beach after winning U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying, finishing four strokes ahead of Sam Horsfield at Walton Heath Golf Club.
The South African, who celebrated his 30th birthday just yesterday, opened with a round of 63, nine under par, which he followed with a round of 65. On the back nine of his second round, Burmester carded six birdies, including five in a row from the 12th to the 16th holes, to secure his second appearance at the U.S. Open after 36-hole qualifying.
“I guess it’s just one of those days when you roll out of bed and the putts go in the hole," said Burmester. "The nine under was solid, I had a few bad shots but managed to get up and down and roll in the putts.
“I had a nervy start in the afternoon, one over through the first five, but then the momentum kicked in after rolling in a few and it was like how things were in the morning.
“It’s up there with playing in an Open at St Andrews, just because of where it is and the history. I’m excited to go out there and give it my best for four days.”
Horsfield carded rounds of 67-65 to finish on 12 under par, two strokes ahead of Marcus Fraser and Clément Sordet who shared third place. Sordet birdied his final six holes to book his place at Pebble Beach.
“It was a long way to come over for this qualifier," said Fraser. "I was first reserve for Made in Denmark and didn’t get in, I didn’t play great in Belgium and missed the cut. I didn’t play well today but the putter was as good as it’s ever been and that got me through.
“This will be my fourth U.S. Open. At Pebble Beach it’ll be like the Open at St Andrews. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Marcus Kinhult, Matthieu Pavon and Lee Slattery were among the early finishers who secured their place on nine under par, while in a share of eighth place were six golfers including 2016 Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters, who birdied the last hole to avoid a play-off, and New Zealand amateur Daniel Hillier.
A five-man play-off was required to determine who would take the 14th and final spot from Walton Heath. Renato Paratore overcame Bernd Wiesberger with a birdie on the second extra hole, while Nacho Elvira secured the second alternate spot.
“I am really happy," said Paratore. "I really wanted to qualify and to achieve it is beautiful. With five people in a play-off, I felt as though I had to birdie the first hole or go home.
“I’ll prepare for it like any other tournament. I’ll probably go over on the Sunday to help with the jetlag. Now I’ll go home, rest, practice and make sure I’m ready."