Making the Rounds: Three area players qualify for U.S. Senior Open

Jeff Wilson qualified for his third U.S. Senior Open, which will be played in June at Del Paso Country Club.
Jeff Wilson qualified for his third U.S. Senior Open, which will be played in June at Del Paso Country Club. Associated Press file

Jeff Wilson, Jim Knoll and Terry Foreman may be amateurs, but each handled adversity like pros Tuesday during qualifying for the U.S. Senior Open.

As a result, they earned the right to compete for a national championship June 25-28 at Del Paso Country Club.

Wilson, Knoll and Foreman each shot a 1-under-par 71 in windy conditions at Green Valley Country Club to secure the sectional site’s three berths in a field of 85.

Each was elated for a different reason.

Wilson, 51, again lived up to the expectations that come with being a Green Valley member – he has now qualified for the Senior Open three consecutive years at his home course.

“You still have to execute,” he said of any local-knowledge advantage.

Knoll, 62, will play in his third Senior Open, this time in front of a slew of family and friends who live in Sacramento. There’s rarely an amateur tournament in the area without a Knoll from one generation or another entered.

“This is a really big deal,” he said. “That it’s local is a huge bonus.”

Foreman, 58, had qualified for six United States Golf Association championships, all limited to amateurs. This will be his first foray into the USGA’s major leagues, and he was the most excited.

“I’m going to the Senior Open,” he repeated several times after learning his berth was official.

The three players, who each gave pro golf a whirl decades ago before regaining their amateur status, provided a lesson in composure.

Wilson, among the best Northern California amateurs of all time, turned in 2 over par after playing the back nine first. He said he was feeling the pressure of being the local favorite – he lives a mile from the course – and was unsettled.

“I was out over my skis a little bit,” he said. “But I knew I had some birdies in front of me if I just hung in there.”

He birdied the par-5 first hole with a drive, an 8-iron and two putts. He birdied Nos. 3 and 4 and finished with five solid pars to the delight of the biggest following on the course.

Knoll, who lives in Sunnyvale and plays out of Rooster Run, sends weekly emails to the region’s senior golf fraternity informing them of news, events and deadlines. He didn’t make a birdie but had two eagles, a bogey and a double bogey.

After making a 6-foot eagle putt on No. 15 – his sixth hole – his drive on No. 16 was out of bounds by what he estimated to be 6 inches.

“I made a good double after that,” he said.

Foreman, a Brentwood resident and Roddy Ranch member, was 3 over after seven holes after a triple bogey at No. 14 – his fifth hole – and a bogey at 16. He played 4 under the rest of the way.

“I knew I was hitting it good,” he said. “I just had to keep plugging along.”

Dana Jetter, a pro at Spring Valley in Milpitas, played his last 10 holes in 4 under but bogeyed his final hole to miss forcing a playoff by one stroke. He finished alone at 72 and is the first alternate.

Auburn’s Shawn Kelly (74) and Steve Brodie (75), and Roseville’s Charlie Gibson (75) fared best among local players.

Green Valley was one of 34 qualifying sites in 26 states. The USGA received 2,445 entries competing for 75 nonexempt spots in the 156-player field.

Et cetera – Josh Sedeno, 17, won the Memorial Amateur over the weekend at Ancil Hoffman. The Del Oro High School junior posted a three-round total of 5-under 205 to beat defending champion Cameron Champ by two shots. Sedeno, who plans to play collegiately at SMU, chipped in for a birdie on No. 16 during his final-round 69 on Monday. Sacramento’s Champ, a freshman at Texas A&M, closed with a 68. Sedeno and Champ were the only players to finish under par.

▪ Jordan Weir (4-under 68) of El Dorado Hills was the medalist at U.S. Open local qualifying last week at Granite Bay. Also advancing to the sectional stage from Granite Bay were Champ, Rocklin’s Stephen Edman, Folsom’s Kevin Lucas and Ryan Gronlund of Pleasanton. Arbuckle’s Tom Johnson (9-under 63) was the medalist at local qualifying last week at Silverado. Colfax’s Patrick Bauer (67) advanced in a four-men-for-three-spots playoff.

▪ Stevinson Ranch will close July 18. A decline in rounds played and water concerns were cited as the reasons. The course opened in 1995.

Steve Pajak: (916) 326-5526.

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