The United States Open golf tournament is often referred to as the toughest test in the sport.
Presented by the United States Golf Association, the beauty of the event is that it gives everyone a chance to compete against the world’s best, regardless of professional or amateur status.
Before getting there, however, hopefuls must first pass two smaller tests, beginning with local qualifying. One of those local qualifiers was held Thursday at the Country Club of York. A field of 91 golfers, including six current or former York-Adams League players and a pair of York College golfers, vied for five spots in the sectional round.
Two alternate spots were also up for grabs. Hopefuls are ultimately trying to reach a spot in this year’s U.S. Open, to be held June 15-18 at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
As a CCY member, Central York’s Joe Parrini had a cheat sheet of sorts because of his local knowledge. The two-time District 3 champion and University of Arizona recruit was able to withstand chilly temperatures and a heavy drizzle to card a 1-under-par 69.
That mark tied him for medalist honors with current Web.com Tour player Vince Covello, former Web.com pro Hugo Leon and Nick Tremps. Parrini’s score was the lowest of any amateur player in the field and qualifies him for the upcoming sectional round.
“It definitely helps, just knowing some areas to miss, how the holes kind of play,” Parrini said of his familiarity with the course. “I was playing pretty solid throughout the day. It’s hard to make birdies in these conditions, so pars are a good score. But really, I had my putter rolling and kept making pars.”
Christopher Crawford and Mark Kriston Jr. tied for fifth with even-par 70s, but Crawford earned the fifth-and-final qualifying spot in a playoff. Kriston is the first alternate.
Former Penn Manor and UNLV standout Jarred Texter carded a 1-over 71 and earned the second alternate after another playoff.
Parrini’s day: Through 13 holes, Parrini was sitting at even par. On the par-5 14th, Parrini, the 2014 CCY club champion, found a green-side bunker in his attempt to get home in two. He would blast out to about five feet and convert the birdie to move him to 1 under.
It was that steady putter the rest of the way that would carry him to the clubhouse. Parrini gave his back nine serious momentum by closing his front side with a birdie. He nearly holed out for eagle on the ninth before converting his birdie to head to that closing nine at 1 over.
He would get to level two holes later on the par-4 11th with perhaps his biggest putt of the day. Parrini stuck an uphill, 135-yard 9-iron in the center of the green before draining a 25-footer that rolled downhill, right to left.
All of this came after Parrini settled into his game after a 2-over start in his first five holes.
Drastic weather change: For Parrini, Thursday’s dreary conditions were a far, but welcome, cry from the warm, sunny confines of Florida. Parrini spends the colder months in the Sunshine State working on his game.
“It’s a good chance to get another tournament round under my belt. Home course is never a bad thing, got to sleep in my own bed,” Parrini said. “It was actually getting pretty hot in Florida, so I enjoyed the cold a little bit.”
It’s that southern training which Parrini attributed to a maturation process within his game, one that allowed him to pass this test after failing a year ago at Lebanon Country Club.
It was clear after Thursday's round that his sole focus was on the local qualifier. When asked about a possible site for the sectional round, he said the thought hadn’t yet crossed his mind.
“Not too sure, didn’t’ really think that through,” Parrini said. “I was just trying to play well today.”
The nearest sectional qualifier is June 5 at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland. In all, there are 12 sectional qualifiers across the nation, with 51 sectional qualifiers moving on to the 156-player U.S. Open field. The remaining spots go to exempt players.
Other area players: Parrini led a group of six players with York-Adams League ties, but was the only one to move on.
Also participating Thursday were Susquehannock’s Caleb Bryant (75), Central York grad and current University of Minnesota player Gus Minkin (77), Dallastown’s Blake Sebring (79), York Catholic’s Andrew Forjan (80) and West York grad Matt Rundle (91).
York College had a pair of players in the field Thursday. Representing the Spartans were sophomore Tyler Newton (80) and freshman Morgan Uhlick (86).
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.