The US Open is right around the corner, and many players aren’t very familiar with The Country Club - jobs fights tigma
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The US Open is right around the corner, and many players aren’t very familiar with The Country Club

Golf

The US Open is right around the corner, and many players aren’t very familiar with The Country Club

“This time of year, it’s just huge tournament after huge tournament,” said New England native Keegan Bradley, a 14-year pro. “I do not get to play that much in New England, never in Boston anymore, and this is properly Boston. I really look forward to getting out there. ”

The road to finalize the field of 156 heads into overdrive starting Monday. An original lineup of 8,880 golfers in local qualifying has been whittled down to 530 for final qualifying, which will be held across 11 sites.

Most final qualifiers are on June 6, but the first final qualifier is Monday in Dallas. Because of its proximity to the PGA Championship at Southern Hills and this week’s event at Colonial, the qualifier will feature several noteworthy professionals in the field, including Matt Kuchar, Brian Harman, Rory Sabbatini, Graeme McDowell, Adam Hadwin, Charley Hoffman, Si Woo Kim, Adria Arnaus, and Kramer Hickok.

“Everybody says good things about The Country Club, so definitely excited to hopefully play,” Kuchar said.

The 4th hole at The Country Club is a 493-yard par-4.David L. Ryan / Globe Staff

Kuchar, 43, has been a professional since 2000, but has never competed at The Country Club. He came too late to play in the ’99 Ryder Cup, and was long established by the time of the 2013 US Amateur, the last significant event at The Country Club.

Kuchar is certainly not alone in being unfamiliar with TCC. A few youngsters, including Masters winner Scottie Scheffler, PGA winner Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Matt Fitzpatrick, played in the ’13 Amateur. A handful of older golfers, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood played in the ’99 Ryder Cup.

Woods’ appearance in Brookline is in doubt after he withdrew from the PGA because of injuries. Mickelson may also miss Brookline after skipping the first two majors this year because of controversial comments he made about the PGA Tour and the Saudi royal family.

Most of this year’s US Open field will be unfamiliar with TCC, one of five founding members of the United States Golf Association and one of the game’s historic venues.

“It’s one that I’m going to have to roll into pretty blind, which is not normally my MO,” said Justin Rose, who tied for 13th at Southern Hills. “I really do not know what to expect, other than a traditional US Open track. I can kind of picture what it’s going to be like from images I’ve seen from years past, but I do not have a good appreciation for the track. ”

The championship figures to have at least some local representation. A dozen or so local golfers are still alive in final qualifying, including the father-son tandem of Fran and Owen Quinn from Holden, Mass., Who were two of the five players to advance from the Williamstown qualifier. The same event eliminated Brockton amateur Matt Parziale, the 2017 Massachusetts Amateur and US Mid-Amateur champion who played in two US Opens and a Masters in 2018-19.

Former Patriots running back Danny Woodhead, an accomplished amateur golfer, is also in contention. He was one of five golfers to advance from the Omaha, Neb. qualifier, and he will participate in final qualifying in Springfield, Ohio, on June 6.

No. 11 at The Country Club is a 131-yard par-3.David L. Ryan / Globe Staff

One local who will definitely be in the US Open field is Bradley, whose spot was finally secured on May 8. Bradley, ranked 46th in the World Golf Rankings as of last week, earned an exemption for being ranked in the top 60.

Bradley, who grew up in Vermont and New Hampshire but spent his senior year of high school in Hopkinton, has played in nine US Opens, with a top finish of fourth in 2014. But he has not played in it since 2020, and had this this year US Open circled on his calendar for years.

“That’s been sort of stressful, worrying about that,” Bradley said. “There’s nothing I like more than watching or rooting for Boston sports. If I can do that for some of the people out there, that’s exciting for me. ”

Bradley, despite his local ties, also has never been to The Country Club, other than as a spectator as the ’99 Ryder Cup as a teenager.

“They did not let the likes of me there when I was younger,” he quipped. “But it’s a special place for sure. When you play a US Open it’s nothing like any of those tournaments. I’m sure they’ve added tons of yards, so it’s going to be tough. ”

The ’99 Ryder Cup was one of the most memorable golf events of the past 25 years, with the Americans staging a furious and improbable comeback on Sunday to beat the Europeans.

“I certainly have that putt Justin Leonard made etched in my mind,” said Kuchar, referencing Leonard’s 40-yard putt on No. 17 that sealed the win.

It was also the day that a raucous Boston gallery let the golf world know that it has some of the most passionate fans in the country, no matter the sport.

“Obviously the crowds in Boston are going to be lively,” Rose said. “A US Open anywhere is going to be a treat, but I feel like we’re in a nice run of some great championship venues, of which Brookline is one of them.”


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com.

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