Beaufort News

Players return to Colleton River course after US Open qualifier postponed

A tamer, quieter golf course greeted players Tuesday when they returned to Colleton River Plantation to resume a postponed U.S. Open local qualifier.

The Dye Course, already boasting a difficult layout and setup, played tougher Monday with the winds of approaching storms. Conditions were calm Tuesday morning, and players tried to take advantage.

Hilton Head Island resident Chris Epperson, 3 under par when he resumed play on the 11th hole Tuesday, made pars the rest of the way to shoot 69, earn medalist honors and advance to a fourth consecutive U.S. Open sectional qualifier.

This is the second time Epperson has qualified on the Dye Course. He also advanced in 2010.

"I like a hard course that's in good shape and (where) 72 is not a bad score," Epperson said. "That way, it kind of weeds out guys who are just on fire for the day. I had to do a lot of thinking around this course yesterday and today and really manage my game, hitting the center of the greens."

Six players earned qualifying spots Tuesday, with two alternates. Mark Harrell, from Chattanooga, Tenn., finished his round Monday and shot 1-under 71 to qualify. Berkeley Hall member Nathan Stamey, Hilton Head's Josh Schrader and Clemson golfer Jacob Burger each shot even-par 72 to earn a spot at sectionals. Daniel Mobley won a playoff among four players at 73 to earn the sixth and final spot. Tanner Ervin and Paul Cormack are alternates.

The local qualifiers will compete June 4 at one of 11 sectional sites for a spot in the U.S. Open.

After competing the past three years at Hawk's Ridge Golf Club in Georgia, Epperson said he will play Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., which qualified a high number from sectionals in 2011. Sites in Memphis, Tenn., and Columbus, Ohio qualify a high number but are also tour sites, where high-caliber players not already qualified try to shoot their way in.

Stamey shot 72-66 at a 2011 sectional in Georgia and finished five shots out of a playoff for the third and final spot.

"They just tore it up," said Stamey, a former UNC Greensboro golfer recently back from Canadian Tour qualifying in California. "I've got a pretty good grasp on how it works. You've just got to be ready to play as well as you can for 36 and go as low as you can."

Burger probably wishes the Dye Course also hosted a sectional. He has qualified for three U.S. Amateurs on the layout and finished top-five at the 2011 S.C. Amateur.

"I've got a pretty good track record at this place," he said.

Burger, who was a senior at Clemson this past year, carried the bag of fellow Tigers golfer Michael Muscatell in the playoff for the final spot and alternates. Muscatell missed out on the second alternate spot on his third playoff hole.

Burger moves on to Maryland, where he will try to become the second golfer to advance through local qualifying at the Dye Course and go on to play in a U.S. Open.

Epperson is also looking to break through at a sectional after a close call two years ago. He finished tied for second at Hawk's Ridge but, with only two spots moving on, lost in a playoff.

"I made a mistake going there," Epperson said. "Last year they had 10 spots in Maryland. So I'm hoping."

U.S. Open local qualifier

Colleton River Plantation (Dye Course), Bluffton; Par 72; 7,254 yards


Chris Epperson 69

Mark Harrell 71

Nathan Stamey 72

Jacob Burger 72

Josh Schrader 72

Daniel Mobley 73


1. Tanner Ervin 73

2. Paul Cormack 73

Failed to Qualify

Michael Muscatell 73

Roderick Bastard 74

Roberto Nasalli Rocca 74

Tommy Schaff 74

Josh Gallman 74

Logan Harrell 75

Greg Doherty 75

Jacobo Pastor 75

Jeff Hall 75

Kyle Peterman 75

Zach Zachry 75

Brett Munson 75

George Bryan IV 76

Daniel Stanley 76

Jeff Tremblay 76

Alexander Hicks 76

Joshua Williams 76

Adam Lescalleet 77

Cary Phillips 77

Chris Walsh 77

Joel Hendry 77

Jhared Hack 77

Jean Paul Longueil 78

Will Oldham 78

Tyler Williams 78

Jack Hall 78

Christopher Magi 78

Dustin Adair 79

Adam Cohan 79

Roy Hunter 79

Scott Weeks 79

Jeffery McDaniel 79

Raymond Franz 79

Charles Kern 79

Adam Carstens 79

Ben Duncan 79

Scott Melton 79

Charlie Smiley 80

P.J. Politan 80

Gregory Schmaus 80

Travis Cashion 80

John O'Brien 80

Eric Beringer 81

Colt Crymes 81

Charlie Niland 81

Tate Hoisington 81

Kurtis Luedtke 81

Joey Shroyer 82

Ryan Kaufmann 82

Lance Johnson 83

Mickey Werenski 83

Lee Pitt 83

Andrew Ward 84

Lushen Evans 84

Thomas Joiner 85

Ross Prachar 85

Stephen Reynolds 86

Pratt Reed 87

Michael Bleakley 87

golf, US Open, Open, qualifying, qualify, qualifier, local, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC, South Carolina, Colleton, River, Dye, course