Hilton Head Island's Andrew Orischak wins U.S. Open local qualifier at Long Cove

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comMay 13, 2014 

Hilton Head Island High School golfer Andrew Orischak

FILE PHOTO

A schedule change created a conundrum Monday for Hilton Head Island High School freshman Andrew Orischak.

He wanted to compete with his Seahawks teammates at the Class 3-A Lower State tournament in Conway. But when that date was moved back a day, it conflicted with Orischak's commitment to the U.S. Open local qualifier at his home Long Cove Club.

With the support of Seahawks golf coach Rawn Grant, Orischak played in his first U.S. Golf Association qualifier. The decision looked smart after Orischak fired a 6-under-par 65 to set the competitive course record at Long Cove, earn medalist honors at the qualifier and move on to sectional qualifying, where he will try for a spot in June's U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.

Hilton Head Island's Will Miles also moved on to sectional qualifying after a 1-under 70. He was one of five players at 1 under. Only three stayed until the end to earn one of the five qualifying spots.

Pawleys Island's Tee Opperman and Charleston's Christian Brand were the other two qualifiers at 1 under.

Bluffton's Ben Dietrich also shot 1 under but left to catch a flight. He will be an alternate.

Orischak broke the previous competitive course record of 68, set during a men's U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier and another time during an American Junior Golf Association event.

The lowest scores ever on the course were 64s shot by professional golfers Ian Baker Finch and Rocco Mediate, according to director of golf Bob Patton.

Orischak's round included six birdies and no bogeys.

Ryan Nelson, a professional golfer from Charleston, qualified with a 5-under 66 - also better than the previous competitive record. Nelson had played in two of the past three U.S. Opens, including 2013 at Merion.

Miles was playing his second local qualifier after failing to qualify last year at Secession Golf Club in Beaufort. The junior at Heritage Academy signed up for sectional qualifying in Rockville, Md., where he hopes the layout favors his game as a straight hitter without huge distance.

The 17-year-old almost holed a wedge shot on No. 4 and made birdie. He added birdies on No. 5 and 10 to go with two bogeys.

"It's a qualifier and nobody really expects me to get in, I'm only 17 years old," Miles said. "Just go out there and have fun and see what happens and play my own game."

With fellow Long Cove member Jim Magruder on his bag, Orischak dropped a 40-footer for birdie on the first hole and drained a 55-foot putt on the par-4 14th for his final birdie.

On the fourth hole, Orischak hit it 10 feet below the hole for birdie and read his putt to break just a fraction left. Magruder told him to expect much more break, but Orischak went with his gut. The putt slid by on the left side, and as Orischak walked off the green, he told Magruder he would not doubt him again.

"It was pretty remarkable," Orischak said. "I wish he could caddie for me at every event."

Without Orischak, the Seahawks still managed to finish second place at Lower State, which was originally scheduled for May 13. He will be able to rejoin his team for the state tournament.

Orischak played a practice round Sunday with friends after returning from a trip on Friday and Saturday to Chapel Hill, N.C., to visit the University of North Carolina.

In addition to the long birdies on No. 1 and 14, Orischak made a 10-footer for birdie on the second hole, had tap-ins for birdie on 6 and 7 and made birdie from the fringe on No. 10.

Orischak is now targeting future USGA qualifiers. He thought Long Cove would be a good start.

"If you're not going to do it there, where are you going to qualify?" he said.

Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.

U.S. Open local qualifier

Monday at Long Cove Club

par 71; 7,026 yards

Qualifiers

  • Andrew Orischak, Hilton Head 65

  • Ryan Nelson, Charleston 66

  • Will Miles, Hilton Head 70

  • Christian Brand, Charleston, 70

  • Tee Opperman, Pawleys Island 70

  • Alternates

  • Ben Dietrich, Bluffton 70

  • Chip Deason, Evans, Ga. 70

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