Former Buc Davies played in U.S. Open the last time it was at Oakmont

Joe Avento • Jun 9, 2016 at 5:38 PM

The last time the U.S. Open was held at Oakmont Country Club, East Tennessee State University was represented.

The Open returns to the difficult course near Pittsburgh next week, conjuring up memories of the 2007 tournament in which Rhys Davies was one of 10 amateurs to qualify.

Davies, who won 10 college tournaments at ETSU, didn't just qualify, though. He won his sectional qualifier at Rockville, Maryland with scores of 72 and 65, beating a field full of PGA Tour players, including Brad Faxon, Fred Funk and Joey Sindelar.

Oakmont was a bear, as evidenced by Angel Cabrera's winning score of five over par.

For a while, Davies hung around the top of the leaderboard. After making a bogey on his first hole — No. 10 — he managed to get to one under par after eight.

A first-round 74 left him in position to make the cut. But a second-round 83 that included two double-bogeys and a triple sent him home for the weekend.

Davies had plenty of company on the wrong side of the cut line. Several major champions, including Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen and Padraig Harrington, also missed the cut.

Davies tried to get back to Oakmont this year at a Sectional qualifier at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England, but rounds of 76 and 74 didn't make the field.

Davies is now on the European Tour, where he won in Morocco in 2010. He also has four Challenge Tour victories in Europe.

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Another golfer with local ties was also at Oakmont that year, but he wasn't playing. Peter Malnati of Jefferson City was caddying for John Kelly, his college teammate at Missouri.

Local golfers got to know Malnati when he played in the East Tennessee Amateur in Elizabethton several times. He contended, but never won the ETA.

Malnati is a real player these days, earning his PGA Tour card and winning the tour's Sanderson Farms Championship last November, where he finished 18 under par.

Malnati has four top-25 finishes this season and has won more than $1.2 million so far.

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With the Tillinghast Invitational in the books, the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour turns its attention to Greene County.

Link Hills Country Club is the next stop on the tour as the Link Hills Invitational is scheduled for June 25-26.

In addition to the Championship and Seniors divisions, there will be five flights that will be grouped after the first round.

The Entry fee is $125 and includes two tournament rounds with carts, range balls and one practice round.

Call Link Hills professional Bob Ward at (423) 639-2961 for more information.

After Link Hills, the tour heads to Elizabethton for the Carter County Bank East Tennessee Amateur, July 1-3.

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Elizabethton Golf Course starts a six-week junior clinic on June 15. The clinic, for kids ages 4-17, will run on Wednesdays through July 20.

The cost is $80 for children of members, $100 for non-members.

Elizabethton will also hold a couples tournament on Friday. The nine-hole, select-shot event begins at 5:30 p.m.

The entry fee is $20 per team for members, $30 for non-members.

Call (423) 542-8051 for more information on either event.

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We've all seen somebody in a pond looking for golf balls at one time or another.

It turned deadly for an Ohio man last week, who drowned while diving for golf balls.

Charles Hill, 63, was diving in full scuba gear at the Dogwood Hills Golf Course near the village of Waverly, in the southern part of the state.

Hill's son, who also had been diving in the pond, called 911 and said his father went underwater and never resurfaced.

It took dive teams about 20 minutes to find the man’s body in about eight feet of water, about 50 feet from the shore. He was reportedly an experienced diver.

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