GOLF: Bailey narrowly misses U.S. Open berth

Published 8:36 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

Braden Bailey came agonizingly close to adding another layer to the Pea Patch mystique Monday in U.S. Open Sectional qualifying at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond.

With three spots available in a field of 52 professionals and amateurs, Bailey carded rounds of 66-70 for a 36-hole total of eight-under-par 136. That left him outright sixth, two shots away from a trip to Shinnecock Hills next week.

LSU teammates Phillip Barbaree from Shreveport and Jacob Bergeron from Slidell shared medalist honors at 11-under 133. Chris Nagel, a Tour player from St. Louis, grabbed the final spot in a playoff after shooting 134.

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Bailey, had he made it, would have been the third player from Port Neches-Groves High School to get through Sectional qualifying. Chris Stroud was the first in 2010, then Andrew Landry did it two years ago.

Landry, famously, went on to lead the U.S. Open after round one with a 66 at historic Oakmont Country Club and was in the final pairing with Dustin Johnson on Sunday. He finished tied for tied for 15th. Stroud was 47th in his U.S. Open, also at Oakmont.

Bailey was among 857 players trying to grab one of 71 available U.S. Open spots in Monday qualifiers at 11 different sites across the United States and England. He had advanced to Sectional qualifying by finishing second in local qualifying a month ago in Dallas.

After shooting at 80 in the final round of his junior season at Baylor in the NCAA tournament two weeks ago, Bailey came out blazing on Monday. His opening round showed a scorecard with six birdies and no bogeys.

Four of the birdies came in a row, after he played the back nine first in two-under 34. He birdied holes 1 through 4, then finished with five consecutive pars. After 18 holes, he was outright fourth.

In the afternoon round, Bailey stumbled early with a double bogey on the par 4, second hole. He turned in 37 after making a birdie at 9, then got to two under on the round with birdies at 10, 13 and 15. At that point he was tied for third.

He would make his only bogey of the day at 16, then finish with a birdie at 18.