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Stanford freshman McNealy advances to U. S. Open with 3rd-place in qual tourney

Stanford freshman Maverick McNealy punched his ticket to Pinehurst, North Carolina, for the 2014 U. S. Open with a 3rd-place finish at the Sectional Qualifying Tournament at Lake Merced Golf Club and the Olympic Club on June2, 2014.
Stanford freshman Maverick McNealy punched his ticket to Pinehurst, North Carolina, for the 2014 U. S. Open with a 3rd-place finish at the Sectional Qualifying Tournament at Lake Merced Golf Club and the Olympic Club on June2, 2014.
photo courtesy of Jerry Stewart

The name McNealy carries some weight in Silicon Valley. Scott McNealy, 59, co-founded computing giant Sun Microsystems, and was variously chairman, president, and CEO of the company from its founding until its sale to Oracle Corp. in 2010. But in the Sectional Qualifying tournament for the 2014 U.S. Open which was held Monday, June 2, the only weight that Scott carried was the golf bag belonging to his oldest son, Maverick.

The elder McNealy caddied for his son, who just wrapped his freshman season on the Stanford University golf team, while he joined 109 other golfers playing at Lake Merced Golf Club and on the Ocean Course at the Olympic Club, in San Francisco. The 110 golfers were competing for five spots in the field at the U.S. Open, June 9–15 at Pinehurst Resort and Golf Club in North Carolina. Maverick, 18, of Portola Valley, took Low Amateur honors at the sectional tournament, and was third overall, behind journeyman professionals Alex Cejka, of Czechoslovakia, and Steven Alker, of New Zealand.

The junior McNealy posted rounds of 67 and 69 at Lake Merced Golf Club’s par-72 layout and on the par-71 Ocean Course at the Olympic Club, respectively, for a total of 136 – seven under par, four shots back of medalist Alex Cejka. The 43-year-old Cejka, who escaped from (then-)communist Czechoslovakia with his parents as a boy of nine, posted rounds of 67 at Lake Merced and 65 at the Olympic Club. With 271 PGA Tour starts under his belt, Cejka is used to tournament pressure and it showed today, as he posted the only pair of clean, bogey-free rounds in the field.

Second-place finisher Alker, a 42-year-old New Zealander who has been on and off the PGA Tour, and currently plays on the Tour, carded a two-rounds total of 135, three strokes back of Cejka. Alker shot 70 at the Olympic Club, and a bogey-free 65 – low round of the day – at Lake Merced.

The final two qualifying spots went to Sacramento native Kevin Sutherland, 49, and amateur Brian Campbell of Irvine, CA. Sutherland, who will turn 50 on July 4, only six days before the 2014 U. S. Senior Open, has been granted a special exemption from qualifying for the senior championship. He has played in nine previous U.S. Opens, including 2013 at Merion, where he tied for 67th place.

The two alternate positions were filled by Craig Barlow of Henderson, Nevada, who finished solo 6th with a 138. The second alternate position came down to a 4-man playoff, which was won by Armando Favela, of Alta Vista, CA.

Other local golfers fall short of the mark

Former University of San Francisco golfer Cory McElyea, of Santa Cruz, failed to advance, shooting a 3-under 68 at the Olympic Cub in the morning round, and even-par 72 at Lake Merced in the afternoon, to finish three strokes out of the final qualifying spot. McElyea made it to the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, advancing out of sectional qualifying at Big Canyon Country Club and Newport Beach Country Club in Southern California.

Casey Boyns, 58, a long-time caddie at Pebble Beach Golf Links, and a member of the California Golf Hall of Fame, also failed to advance. Boyns, who has a total of 14 NCGA titles to his credit, is a two-time winner of the California State Amateur title (1989, 1993) and 2012 California Senior Amateur champion. The Pacific Grove native shot a two-round total of 150 (74 at Lake Merced, 76 at Olympic).

The 110-man field enjoyed a typical west-side San Francisco summer day at the two courses: overcast skies, temperatures in the 50s to low 60s, and wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour. Jackets – even raingear – and knit hats were much in evidence on both courses. The two courses are near Lake Merced, which lies in the southwest corner of the City and County of San Francisco. The Ocean Course at the Olympic Club, which hosted the 2012 U.S. Open on its Lake Course, and the course at Lake Merced Golf Club were both in pristine condition for the event, a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the club and grounds staff at both venues.

Both Lake Merced and the Olympic Club have a history of supporting competitive golf at the amateur and professional levels. Lake Merced hosted the 2012 USGA Girls Junior Championship, sectional qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open, and a sectional qualifier for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Championship, and recently hosted the first running of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, which marked the return of the LPGA Tour to the Bay Area for the first time since 2010. The Olympic Club , a 5-time host of the U.S. Open (1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012) will host another USGA Championship, the first USGA Men’s Amateur Fourball Championship, in May 2015.

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