They called it “golf’s longest day,” and for Lawrence Largent, it felt even a little bit longer.
The Gray native played in a sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open on Monday, walking 36 holes. And he did it on little sleep after having played in the Tillinghast Invitational at Johnson City Country Club the previous two days.
“I was pretty tired, but it was a great experience,” Largent said.
Largent didn’t qualify for the U.S. Open, but he had a heck of a time trying.
After shooting a final-round 71 in the Tillinghast on Sunday, Largent headed for Ball Ground, Ga., about 50 miles north of Atlanta. He arrived around 11 p.m.
His first tee time at Hawks Ridge Golf Club was 8:30 a.m.
With a field of 51 players in the sectional competing for three spots in the U.S. Open at Merion, Largent knew the odds were against him.
“I knew I was going to have to play two of the better rounds I’ve played, and even that might not be good enough,” he said.
He opened well enough, making an eagle at the final hole of the first round to post an even-par 72. He shot 76 in the second round.
“I played really well the first round,” he said. “I didn’t putt all that great, made a few par puts. I think our group shot nine under in the first round.”
Largent’s group happened to include Michael Kim, college golf’s player of the year. Kim, who plays at Cal, spent Sunday in Ohio receiving the Jack Nicklaus Award from Jack himself. He shot rounds of 67 and 66 and tied for medalist honors.
“That was a good thing, seeing him play all day,” Largent said. “He was very impressive, one of the better players I’ve played with. He had no weakness in his game.
“We had quite a large gallery. A lot of cameras ... Golf Channel was there on the last hole. It was pretty neat.”
Largent got off to a shaky start in the second round, although he managed to play the back nine in even par.
“It was the result of just getting tired more than anything,” he said. “I was proud to play as well as I did in the first round. I was a little disappointed in the second round. Thirty-six holes in one day is a lot of golf for a working man. I can guarantee there weren’t a lot of guys down there who were 36 years old and an amateur.”
It took at least a nine-under total to earn a U.S. Open berth. Three players shot in the 60s for both rounds and didn’t qualify.
Largent had earned his sectional spot by capturing a playoff in a local qualifier in West Virginia. He was one of more than 9,000 entrants who competed in 111 local qualifiers.
His sectional in Georgia was one of 11 being held throughout the country on Monday. Two others were previously held in England and Japan.
“The scores were pretty low, considering,” said Largent, a former Ridgefields Invitational champion. “The quality of players there versus the local qualifying was a big difference.”
Despite not getting a practice round and playing two grueling rounds on little rest because of the Tillinghast, Largent said he’d do it again.
“I was torn on that,” he said. “Johnson City ... I like those guys out there. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have done the same thing. It was a great experience, one of the better things I’ve done in golf.”
Pro golfer Cliff Kresge, who lives in Kingsport, qualified for the U.S. Open after shooting 66 and 69 in Maryland.
Kresge, who has been on the PGA and Web.com tours since 1997, finished tied for 10th in the 2003 U.S. Open.