Stanford freshman Maverick McNealy will be joined in the field at the 2014 U.S. Open this week by teammate Cameron Wilson. McNealy secured a spot in the field for the 114th United States Open, playing June 12-15 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, in Pinehurst, North Carolina, with a third-place finish in sectional qualifying at Lake Merced Golf Club and the Olympic Club last week.
Wilson did not immediately play his way into the tournament, coming out of his sectional qualifier in Purchase, New York, as first alternate. There is always some hope for low alternates though, as the USGA traditionally holds a few spots open for players who might play their way into an exempt spot by moving into the Top 60 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) in tournaments held in the last week before the Open.
The USGA was holding five spots open last week, and of the five players, worldwide, who were on that bubble, just two – Kevin Na and Bernd Weisberger – made the move, leaving three slots open for alternates from sectional qualifying.
Wilson, who is the 2014 NCAA Division I individual champion, made a birdie putt on the sixth hole of a playoff to earn the first alternate spot. Wilson earned first-team All-America honors while playing for Stanford University this year. This will be his second U.S. Open – he was in the field for the 2012 Open at The Olympic Club, where he missed the cut.
The serendipitous circumstances that led to those three spots opening up also benefitted an alternate from the Lake Merced GC/Olympic Club sectional qualifier, Craig Barlow, 41, of Henderson, Nevada. Barlow, who was the first alternate from the Daly City, Calif., sectional, will be playing in his sixth U.S. Open. His best finish was a tie for 26th at Winged Foot Golf Club in 2006. Barlow also played in the 2005 Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
The third beneficiary of the open spots was another amateur, Brandon McIver. McIver, a rising junior at the University of Oregon, was first alternate in the sectional qualifier at Creswell, Oregon. This will be his first United States Open.
McIver and McNealy will play together for the first two rounds of the Open, and will be joined by former LSU Tiger Smylie Kaufman. Kaufman, who is making his professional debut at the 2014 U.S. Open after helping LSU qualify for match play at 2014 NCAA Championship, just completed his senior season at LSU, where he registered six top-five finishes in four years.
The 18-year-old McNealy, who lives in Portola Valley, CA, holds the distinction of being the only player in this (or any other) United States Open to have a billionaire toting his bag during the tournament. McNealy’s caddie for the Open will be his father, Scott McNealy, 59, co-founder of the Silicon Valley computing firm Sun Microsystems.