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Familiar Faces Qualify
On a picturesque day at Winthrop, the Monday Qualifier saw several high profile players, plus a few others, take advantage of their last chance to gain entry to the USDGC’s Open Flight.
Not surprising, North Carolina stand out Michael Johansen of Denver, N.C., shot the day’s hottest round with a 57 (-10). Also making the grade were Chandler Fry of Olympia, Wash. (-5), Raymond Oberley Jr., of Hibbing, Minn. (-5), Eric McCabe of Corinth, Texas (-3), and Brian Schweberger of Tarboro, N.C. (-2).
Johansen, now heading into his 11th USDGC, is no stranger to the Championship. Over the years he’s collected several impressive finishes including 5th in 2010.
2010 World Champ Eric McCabe returned strong from a back injury that’s plagued him this year. He said his round went mostly to plan until it took a strange twist late.
“It was a good round coming in then I went OB on hole 17. Then I aced from the tee so I got a three on the hole,” said McCabe.
Another familiar Winthrop face, Brian Schweberger, who finished 2nd in 2006, held on to the last qualifying spot after first submitting a 67, then improved his standing to (-2) after a second round. However, the U.S. Masters Champ felt he could’ve gone lower. To end his second round he ended with a double bogey on hole 17 and a bogey on hole 18.
“I was five under going into the last two,” said Schweberger, who anxiously waited it out until the end.
A Winthrop newcomer, 18-year-old Raymond Oberley, Jr. traveled down to Rock Hill, S.C., figuring he had a chance to qualify after winning the U.S. Amateur Disc Golf Championships and a Minnesota A-tier as a pro, beating tour stars Cale Leiviska and Paul Ulibarri.
Oberley had never seen the course until he drove in last night. He said he was able to walk three holes before it got too dark, then practiced some Monday morning.
Starting over twice after hole 7, Oberley’s third attempt was the charm to figuring out the Winthrop Gold lines and zeroing-in his putt. His only hiccup came on hole 9 when he scored a 7 after getting confused on the OB lines.
This will be Oberley’s first USDGC and he’s pleased with how far he’s come.
“It’s crazy, just 2 months ago I was playing advanced. Now I’m playing with the best players in the world,” said Oberley.
Chandler Fry is excited to now be playing in the Open Flight after initially qualifying for the Performance Flight. Like Oberley it took him three tries to get it right.
“The last nine holes it was just adrenaline pumping because I knew I had something going,” said Fry, who took the week off from college.
Last playing in the Championship in 2009, a more mentally fit Chandler is looking to beat that 62nd finish.
While qualifying, McCabe got to play with another world champ, 2-time winner Harold Duvall, who also designed the Winthrop Gold Course.
“It was awesome. I’d never played with him before. I was pretty excited to pick his brain on a few holes … It was an honor to play with him,” said McCabe.
Photos by: Corduroy LeFevre