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SCV golfers play at U.S. Open qualifier

Posted: May 5, 2014 10:58 p.m.
Updated: May 5, 2014 10:58 p.m.

West Ranch graduate and Long Beach State golfer J.J. Holen tees off at TPC Valencia on Monday.

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Everywhere you looked, it was a who’s who of Santa Clarita Valley golf on Monday at TPC Valencia during the U.S. Open Local Qualifier.

Longtime pro and Hart High graduate Jason Gore was at the course. Tennis pro Mardy Fish was competing, as were Valencia High graduate and 2013 NCAA Individual champion Max Homa and reigning All-Santa Clarita Valley Boys Golfer of the Year and The Master’s College golfer Joey Downey.

But Monday was West Ranch High graduate, 2011 All-SCV Boys Golfer of the Year and Long Beach State junior J.J. Holen’s day.

Holen shot a 2-under 70 to advance to play in the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier on June 2, one step from the U.S. Open.

Holen was one of only five golfers from the local to advance to the sectional, with two golfers earning alternate spots, including Fish, who shot a 73 and advanced after one hole on a playoff.

“I felt sick the last five holes. I was nervous,” Holen said after his 18 holes were over and he knew he had advanced.

Holen was 3-under through his first 10 holes and thought if he just stayed steady, he was in.

However, on his 13th hole he bogeyed, and he followed that with a bogey on his 14th.

Holen recovered with a birdie on the par-5 No. 6 hole and followed with two pars.

Because the pace of play was slow, he had an opportunity to collect his thoughts on a short No. 9, a hole that he said he watched one golfer out of nine par while he stood on the tee box.

His tee shot landed 30 feet from the hole, then he two-putted for par.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Holen said.

Homa wasn’t so fortunate.

He shot a 2-over 74, but had every bit of the excuse.

Homa, who plays professionally on the Web.com Tour, finished seventh at the South Georgia Classic on Sunday, then he immediately flew to California, arrived at 1 a.m. and made his 9:39 a.m. tee time.

“I kept moving flights around and finally found one in Jacksonville. Really didn’t think I would make it, but gave it a shot and happened to get on (the plane) last minute. I didn’t think my bags made it,” Homa said.

Homa said he was a little tired, but didn’t want to make any excuses.

The Valencia grad said he wasn’t disappointed that he didn’t make the cut because he will have more opportunities in the future.

This was his fourth try.

Downey tried for the second year in a row and matched Homa’s 74.

He was even through his first 16 holes, but bogeyed his final two.

“Really frustrating, but it felt good to be in the mix,” said The Master’s College freshman.

Fish is vying to become the third tennis pro all-time to play in the U.S. Open of both tennis and golf.

He thought he was completely out of it after his 73, but he made a birdie in the first playoff round with four other golfers who shot the same 18-hole scores.

“It was cool to play in the U.S. Open (qualifier),” Fish said. “Not too many guys that can play in the U.S. Open last year in tennis and come in and play in the U.S. Open the next year in golf.”

Ten golfers from the SCV competed in the event. These were the other local scores: Caleb Deville (74), Alex Macaluso (74), Thane Ringler (77), Derek Williams (77), Lucas Allensworth (79), Dae Gyeom Kim (89) and Andrew Smeal (92).

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