U.S. Open: Tour veteran gets it done at Springfield Country Club — again

Brian Stuard hopes to get to a point where he doesn’t have to survive a 36-hole grind to make the U.S. Open. But as long as Springfield Country Club remains one of the qualifying sites, Stuard is practically a shoo-in to make the field.

The PGA Tour winner qualified for the second straight year and fourth time overall at Springfield by posting rounds of 66 and 71 to finish third at 3-under-par 137.

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He was medalist in 2013 and ’14, and his experience helped him navigate the notoriously sloping greens.

“I think you have to look at it like, ‘That’s the way it is,’ and keep it below the hole as much as possible,” he said. “You have to putt defensively sometimes.”

Four other players also punched tickets to the U.S. Open: Ohio State’s Will Grimmer (66-69), Illinois’ Dylan Meyer (68-68), Ball State’s Timothy Wiseman (68-70) and Web.com veteran David Gazzolo (69-69).

Stuard made the cut at the Memorial last week but faded on the weekend, finishing in a tie for 70th.

He figured he blew his chances at returning to the U.S. Open with a bumpy finish. He doubled-bogeyed 14, had a bounce-back birdie at 15 but then bogeyed the relatively easy par-five 17th.

“I thought I was one shot short,” he said.

He’s made five appearances in majors, missing the cut three times with a tie for 36th in the 2017 Masters his best finish.

“I really didn’t play that great, I just hung in there. But I feel like my ball-striking is pretty good. Theoretically, that should be nice for the U.S. Open. We’ll see,” he said.

The slightly built Meyer (5-10, 145) made frequent appearances on Golf Channel last week while playing in the NCAA championships, finishing in a tie for fourth.

He knew he’d be going up against a host of accomplished players in the field of 65, but that didn’t leave him quaking in his spike-less Nikes.

“I belong,” he said confidently. “I played well. I feel my game stacks up with them.

“I’ve played in two PGA events and a Web.com event, and I’ve seen how those guys do it. I’m not far off. And I’m just getting started.”

After playing in the John Deere Classic two years ago and the Valspar tourney this season, he’ll make his major championship debut June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills.

Meyer, who resembles a young Tom Kite with his thick-framed glasses, chose to play in the qualifier at SCC for the second straight year — despite its treacherous greens.

“I love the golf course. It tests your mental strength,” he said.

“It’s not a long course, but you have to be able to place your ball in the correct spots. That’s what I like to do. That’s why I came back here instead of picking another spot. I like the way it sets up for me.”

SCC in high winds was too much of a challenge for most. Only seven players broke par, 18 fewer than last year. And Grimmer’s low score of 5-under was seven shots higher than last year when Corey Conners earned medalist honors.

Conners, who set the course record a year ago with a 61, was the last player eliminated. In a playoff with Wiseman and Gazzolo for the final two spots, he had back-to-back three-putt bogeys while the other two parred the second extra hole.

“You’re always going to have nerves when you’re in a playoff, but when you’re trying to get into the U.S. Open, that’s a little different deal,” said Wiseman, who made a four-foot putt to clinch his spot.

“It’s pretty incredible. I was overcome with emotion — and still am.”

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