Birdie barrage pulls Van Sickle step closer to U.S. Open
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Mike Van Sickle shot 65 Monday during a practice round at Quicksilver Golf Club in Midway.
He almost duplicated that effort Tuesday and, as a result, took a significant step toward playing in the 112th U.S. Open next month.
Van Sickle fired a 5-under-par 67 at soggy Quicksilver, taking medalist honors at the U.S. Open local qualifier that was twice delayed by rain.
Van Sickle and three others advanced to regional qualifiers, putting them one step away from playing their way into the major championship that will be staged at The Olympic Club in San Francisco from June 14-17.
More than a quarter of the field shot par or better yesterday, and Van Sickle's birdie binge on the back nine punctuated the best round at the hilly, undulating course.
Van Sickle, who plays on a mini tour in the Carolinas, reeled off four consecutive birdies after rolling in a 20-foot putt from the fringe on the 14th hole. He punched a 5-iron through a thicket of trouble and onto the green after hitting a wayward drive two holes later. That turned out to be Van Sickle's shot of the day after he made a 6-foot putt for birdie.
The Wexford resident had a chance for a fifth consecutive birdie on the 18th hole, but he didn't take any chances with the 6-foot putt, knowing a par would leave him safely in the top four.
Van Sickle, who missed qualifying for the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont by a stroke, will face stiffer competition next month in Columbus, Ohio. But he shouldn't be lacking for confidence when he tees it up in a sectional qualifier that will be packed with PGA Tour players.
“Just the fact that I'm playing well again, it's a relief,” said Van Sickle, who has overcome battles with his swing as well as a balky back. “My last two years it's been a struggle.”
Nothing seemed to bother Van Sickle on a gray, windswept day that seemed more suited for a British Open qualifier. His stellar play provided enough of a cushion for him to leave Quicksilver long before the last golfers had turned in their scorecards.
John Popeck took a decidedly different route to Columbus.
The Washington resident endured two rain delays, including one that caused officials to restart the field late yesterday morning and another that forced Popeck to wait 20 minutes before hitting his most important shot of the day.
It came on No. 17, a par-5 that Popeck figured he had to birdie to get to 70 and force a three-way playoff for the last automatic regional qualifying spot.
His drive had left him in a thick cut of rough, but after the late-afternoon delay, Popeck hit a flush 3-wood. He hit an equally clutch chip shot and made a 4-foot putt for birdie.
Popeck, who has been playing mini tours in Florida, sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole, No. 10, to claim the fourth and final qualifying spot.
“The plan was to hit the fairway, hit the green and give yourself a shot,” Popeck said.
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- Penguins missing Martin, Ehrhoff, Adams; prized prospect Pouliot called up
- Pittsburgh police break up customer fights over Air Jordan 11 shoes
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- EPA says it won’t regulate coal ash as hazardous waste
- Michigan State defensive coordinator a Pitt coaching candidate
- As smokers seek Cuban cigars, retailers point to trade embargo
- Pitt: Football coach hire comes 1st, athletic director 2nd
- Madonna releases 6 songs after leak
- Penguins’ defensive depth proves valuable
- Man involved with crash with officer dies in Pittsburgh hospital