Three advance in U.S. Open local qualifier at Westmoreland C.C.
Dan Konieczny didn't know what to expect Thursday at the U.S. Open local qualifier at Westmoreland Country Club.
Since moving to Florida a year ago in search of a job after leaving Westinghouse in Cranberry, the Bullskin Township (Fayette County) native hasn't played much golf.
“I'd say 10 times in the last year, and six of those rounds came two weeks ago at Hilton Head, (S.C.),” Konieczny said.
Despite not playing as much as he'd like, Konieczny, 39, still has a good game. He was one of the top young golfers in Western Pennsylvania before playing at Florida Southern and competing in mini tour events to try and make the PGA Tour.
Konieczny shot 3-under-par 68 on Thursday, tying for second place with Kevin Shields of Pittsburgh. They were two shots behind Irwin native and Penn-Trafford graduate Dan Obremski, who shot 5-under 66.
The trio advanced to the U.S. Open sectional qualifier, a 36-hole event June 3 at various sites across the country. Obremski and Shields will head to Columbus, Ohio, and Konieczny, who lives in Jupiter, Fla., is going to Bradenton, Fla.
They edged a strong field of golfers hoping to qualify for the 113th U.S. Open, which is June 10-16 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore near Philadelphia. The field included Bob Friend, Rob McClellan, Sean Knapp, John Popeck, Jon Mills, Ryan Sikora and Mike Van Sickle.
Konieczny had five birdies and two bogeys during his round. His chip shot to within 2 feet and birdie on the final hole kept him out of a playoff with three players — Friend, McClellan and Aaron Williams — all of whom shot 69.
“I played good for not playing much,” Konieczny said. “I haven't played a tour event since 2007. I had a couple good saves late in the round, and I knew with the golf technology, No. 18 was a birdie hole.”
Konieczny learned from an official on No. 16 that 69 was the best score posted. He knew he had to get at least another birdie to be in the running.
“I first thought par was 72, and after I hooked my drive left off the tee into the trees, I realized par was 71,” Konieczny said. “I knew I had a shot, but I wasn't in good shape off the tee. I was able to get up and down on Nos. 16 and 17 and then got the birdie on No. 18.
“I love to play golf, and I love to compete. I hadn't played much because the mini tours aren't paying as well now, and a lot of golf friends aren't in Florida. It's tough getting games now.”
Konieczny was home this week for Mother's Day.
Obremski, who plays in as many mini-tour events as he can get, used local knowledge at Westmoreland Country Club. It was the home course for Penn-Trafford.
“I started well, scrambled a little and got some breaks along the way,” Obremski said. “I hooked my drive on No. 11, hit a tree and stayed in play. I got some breaks, and I capitalized on them.”
This is the second time Obremski, 26, has advanced to asectional. He also advanced to Columbus in 2008.
Obremski had six birdies and one bogey during his round.
Shields played well from the start, carding three birdies.
“It was a qualifier round,” he said. “You think you can go low here, but it took awhile for me to get off the horse. I made no mistakes and plodded away. A couple under here is a good score.”