Local News

Local Golfers Swing for the Big Time

Posted May 12, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— TheU.S. Openis one of professional golf's four biggest tournaments. The "open" part means amateurs can play too, but they have to win the chance.

Bill Boles knows it is a long shot, but the Wilson dentist is doing his best to play big time golf when the U.S. Open comes to North Carolina next month.

"Being in North Carolina and with all the tradition at Pinehurst, a lot of us have made an appearance this year when otherwise we might not have," Boles said.

Nearly 8,000 people are fighting for fewer than 80 spots on the roster, which includes the pros. If they do well enough, they are in the tournament, but it is not easy.

There are plenty of near misses in this kind of competition, but for the lucky few, it is worth the tension.

"This is an opportunity to become famous," says golfer Philippe Bureau. "We'd all like to be able to play Pinehurst and get a chance to do well, so it gives just that much more pressure and more fun to the round."

The fact that this round of the tryouts is so close to home makes the tournament even sweeter for the locals.

"I tell you what. There's a lot of pressure on some of the guys," says I.J. Quinn. "A few of them are having a hard time of it and then some of them are doing great."

Only a handful of the 99 players that showed up Thursday will make the final cut. For the others, the chance to make the big time is a reward in itself.

Thursday's qualifying round is one of many across the nation. Less than 10 players, and a handful of alternates, will be selected from each.