Former Penn State Golfer T.J. Howe Earns U.S. Open Spot
The Nittany Lions will have a representative in the field during the 2016 U.S. Open at prestigious Oakmont Country Club later this month after 2010 graduate and former Penn State golfer T.J. Howe, who’s competed in a number of various tours, clinched a spot in the field after shooting seven-under during sectional qualifying in Vancouver, Washington.
Competing at Royal Oaks Country Club, Howe finished second to earn him one of the three available berths out of 55 total competitors. This will be Howe’s first U.S. Open, which runs from June 16-19. The grueling qualification process that helps decide the tournament’s field is, to put it lightly, arguably the most difficult in sports. To help visualize the road Howe took to Oakmont, consider some numerical figures.
This year, there were 9,877 total entires for the U.S. Open. Out of that total, 9,397 players must qualify at the local level to advance to the next stage. 430 of those players are exempt from local qualifying, either due to past performance or PGA standing, and 50 players are fully exempt from qualifying (these players are typically high on the PGA Tour money list or have previously won a major championship). Already, 50 of the 156 spots that comprise the U.S. Open field are filled. Howe cruised past local qualifying, and was able to best all but one player in the sectional field to earn his berth. Simply put, that’s not easy.
Former Penn State golfer and Web.com Tour player Kevin Foley narrowly missed the cut by one stroke during sectional qualifying at Canoe Brook in New Jersey after shooting five-under par. Although he didn’t secure a berth, his seventh place finish makes him a first-alternate for the tournament. If a player withdraws prior to the tournament’s commencement, he’ll earn a spot in the field.
Though the Osceola, Pa native will be playing in his home state, Oakmont’s legendary greens are as unforgiving as they come. The U.S. Open is an arduous competition, serving as one of the most elusive championships in professional sports. Factor in that it’s being played at one of the toughest venues in the country and you get a sense of the tall task Howe faces. The last U.S. Open Oakmont hosted in 2007 produced one of the highest finishing scores in recent major history after Angel Cabrera won the tournament with a final number of five-over par.