Michael Quagliano U.S. Open Diary
Editor’s note: Michael Quagliano, 21, of Ardsley, N.Y., is one of eight amateurs competing in the 108th U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California. Quagliano is the captain of the golf team at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and has several local victories to his credit, including the 2003 Met Junior and 2002 MGA/MetLife Boys Championship, as well as the 2007 Westchester Amateur.
Quagliano was the first alternate in U.S. Open local qualifying held at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, N.Y., and received a call from the USGA on Thursday, May 29, with the news that he had made the sectional qualifying field in Memphis, Tennessee on Monday, June 2. Quagliano shot 68-64 in Memphis, the second-best score of a field loaded with PGA Tour players, and punched his ticket to the U.S. Open. This is his first major championship, and he’ll be checking in for a daily diary on mgagolf.org.
Monday, June 9: Weekend Arrival and Practice
Hello from San Diego! My parents and I arrived on Saturday, June 7 after a long (and delayed) flight from JFK. On Saturday afternoon I decided to take it easy and just play nine holes at Torrey Pines. At about 3:30 PDT, with my dad on my bag, I walked out and hit my first tee shot (down the fairway, which was a nice relief). I ended up playing holes one through 8, then skipped over to finish up on the famed par-five 18th. I’m glad I did, since I birdied it to cap off a great first afternoon at Torrey. My first impression: The second-cut rough is as thick as any I’ve ever seen, and the course plays really long. It will play even longer if the wind comes up.
I woke up at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday and made my way over to the course by 9 a.m. to hit some balls on the range. Just like yesterday, the grounds were basically empty. Most of the pros are either still playing at the Stanford St. Jude or haven’t arrived yet, and no one asked me for any ID or USGA credentials. I am shocked at how easy it was to just walk on!
I’m trying to take it easy since this is a hard walking course and I know I have a long week ahead. This morning, I again play holes 1-8 and then 18 (parred it this time after just missing a 12-foot birdie putt). I mostly play one ball, but do take some practice shots every now and then. The fairways are very narrow, so it will be imperative to keep my shots in the fairways or at least the first cut. I am really just playing my normal game, which always focuses on accuracy. There was a group of people watching me putt out on the 18th hole and I could hear them trying to figure out who I was. One in the crowd said he saw my Duke-logoed golf bag…my mom was near them and told them I’ll be a senior next year. They asked me to sign a few autographs as I walked off 18.
Yesterday I saw Rocco Mediate at our hotel and Charles Howell III at the airport, and today 2007 Travelers Championship winner Hunter Mahan is playing in the group ahead of me, along with Michael Thompson. Thompson was the runner-up in last year’s U.S. Amateur and also played in this year’s Masters – something for me to aspire to! He’s turning pro in July.
It was now 11:40 a.m. and player registration was open. I received a registration packet full of everything that I needed to know for the week, two yardage books, and a bag tag and medal clip with my name on them. This was also where they have a sign-up sheet for practice rounds. If Tiger or Phil’s name were on the sheet and they had room, I could have signed into their group…not surprisingly, neither name was on the list! I did sign up to play a practice round with Rory Sabbatini, and I may also play with fellow Duke alums Joe Ogilvie and Kevin Streelman, both of whom texted and/or called me when I qualified last week.
As I was playing holes 9-17, I started seeing other players. I saw Tiger Woods playing a nearby hole. I also bumped into Dave Pelz and we had a short conversation. I mentioned that the rough was very high and he said I must absolutely stay out of the second cut, otherwise bogey or more is a very real possibility. So far I have played 27 practice holes and have scored no worse than a bogey, so I’m obviously listening to advice!
Sunday ended with a great dinner at a nearby sushi place, Sushi-ota, which my good friend from the Duke golf team, Jake Grodzinski, recommended. After we got back to the hotel, I ran into Sergio Garcia as he was checking in. I’m getting used to seeing the players we watch every week on TV, and am just trying to continue to prepare myself for the Open. I have spoken to my swing coach and original instructor, Jim O’Mara, many times over the past week and he has been very helpful. I’m also excited that GlenArbor teaching pro Dave Gagnon, who also helps me with my game, is due in Tuesday. Dave is going to be my coach and caddie during the championship. I’m looking forward to a great week and will be back with more reports from Torrey on Tuesday!