Three Up, Three Down: Leonard in, Lonard out?
Here's a number for you: 8,390. That's how many entries were received by the deadline to qualify for the U.S. Open, taking place five weeks from now (June 12-15) at Torrey Pines.Here's another number: 58. That's how many players are already fully exempt for the year's second major, from Robert Allenby all the way down to Tiger Woods. (Well, "all the way down" in alphabetical terms, at least.) And here's one final number: 98. That's how many spots are still open. In the first installment of what will be a weekly examination into the qualification status of some players, let's take a look at Three Up, Three Down.
||Don't confuse that name on the already-qualified list for Bart's. Nope, that's big brother Brad, aka Dr. Dirt, who's already in the field based on his victory at last year's U.S. Senior Open. Thanks to a solo third-place finish at the recent Byron Nelson Championship, the younger Bryant is making a run, too. He's now ranked 51st in the world; the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking as of May 26 make the cut. And speaking of making the cut, Bryant has only done so once in four career U.S. Open starts, finishing T-32 at Winged Foot in 2006.|
||Let's just say the 11-time PGA Tour champion isn't exactly sweating this one out. Leonard began the year ranked 89th in the world, but has since moved up to 35th based on a season in which he has yet to miss a cut and has four top-10 results in a dozen starts. Such a rally will prevent him from failing to make the Open field for the first time since 1995. Can he better his career high of T-12 in 2002? That remains to be seen.|
||Don't bother looking up Stone in your PGA Tour media guide. The 39-year-old amateur from Chelmsford, Mass., was the final entrant to get in under the 5 p.m. ET deadline on April 24 -- and he actually had 56 seconds to spare. "That's just like me," said Stone, a former pro, who admitted that he didn't know he was the final entrant until we told him. "I procrastinate on everything." Of course, that leads to one major question: What took you so long? "I couldn't find my debit card. I had to call my wife to get her number. I was like, 'Hun, hurry up. I don't have much time.'"|
||By making a 5-foot putt on the final hole at the Zurich Classic, Lonard sealed a solo second-place finish and secured a spot in the Masters field by moving into 50th on the World Ranking -- whether he knew it or not. "It'll probably be on my TV screen while I'm drinking beer or something," he said before finding out his good fortune. The Aussie missed the cut at the year's first major, and now he's in a similar predicament for the U.S. Open. Lonard has dropped from 50th to 57th in the rankings, but here's guessing he sees himself as more of a contender at Torrey than Augusta. In five previous Open starts, he's never missed a cut, finishing a career-best 11th at Bethpage in 2002.|
||For a few years, Imada didn't have to worry himself with a little thing like U.S. Open qualifying; he took care of that at the tournament itself. With a T-15 finish in 2005 and a T-12 finish in '06, Imada became automatically exempt into the next year's field, but that's something he won't be able to fall back on this time around. Imada missed the cut at Oakmont and now his best chance of returning to the Open for a fourth straight year might come through the PGA Tour money list. The top 10 following the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial will reach the field; after missing three straight cuts, Imada finished T-17 at the Wachovia to remain 18th on the list.|
||With each passing week, automatic qualification into the Open becomes less plausible for the lanky lefty. Green began the year at No. 40 on the World Ranking, but has dropped to 65th -- a result that isn't too surprising based on the fact that Green has competed in only two WGC events, the Masters and two other PGA Tour events (of which he isn't a member) since January. If he makes the field, though, keep an eye on him; at last year's British Open, he had a chance to shoot an elusive 62 -- never before posted in a major championship -- before making bogey on the final hole on Sunday.|
Jason Sobel covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com
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