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Minnesotans Miller, Rachey and Warian Advance From U.S. Open Local Qualifying

LAKE ELMO, Minn. – Rolling in three birdies during his opening nine holes Wednesday at Royal Golf Club helped professional Ross Miller to a round of 3-under 69 and a share of medalist honors with Wes Buntenbach, advancing to Final Qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Open.

Moving on for the third time in four seasons, Miller takes one step closer to the national championship, set to be played June 13-16 at Pinehurst No. 2 in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C.

“It was challenging—cold and windy,” said Miller, who moved to Florida and made three starts on the All Pro Tour this winter. “My mental process, committing to targets and the number I wanted to hit was simple but important today. I’ve been playing fine, just not scoring. I hit some wedges close today, which was pretty validating.

“I told myself this morning don’t wait to get it going, which isn’t easy in tough conditions. You’re usually a little nervous and you want to get comfortable and make a few pars.”

Beginning his round on the 10th tee Wednesday, Miller navigated cool and breezy conditions by carding three birdies to turn in 3-under par.

He would play his next eight holes in 1-over, but moved to the top of the leaderboard with a birdie at the par-5 ninth to advance from Local Qualifying for the sixth time in his career.

“I started working with a new coach last year and he’s helped me with my driver tremendously,” Miller said. “I’ve always been a pretty good iron player, but being more confident over the drive has felt like a game changer.”

Buntenbach, a former Iowa native who now works as a teaching professional at Medina Golf and Country Club, took advantage of his experience in the gusty conditions Wednesday by stringing together three birdies over his first five holes.

Following an early birdie to begin his inward nine, Buntenbach gave back a pair of strokes, but regained momentum down the stretch by sinking birdies on his final two holes to join Miller at 3-under 69, advancing to Final Qualifying for the first time in his career.

“The wind helps me because I feel like I can play it better than other people,” said the 26-year-old Buntenbach, who fell in a playoff a year ago in Sioux Falls, S.D. “I got a new putter last week and rolled that well. I hit one driver today and instantly regretted it.

“I tried to take it easy on myself because this is the first year I’m working full-time. Formerly I was playing full-time on mini tours. It felt good to come here and put my name on the map for Minnesota because no one knows me here yet."

Iowa State University junior Luke Gutschewski claimed the third qualifying spot Wednesday, firing a 2-under 70 despite tallying four birdies over his first 10 holes.

He would give back three strokes over his next five holes, but rebounded by two-putting for birdie at the 18th to advance to the final leg of qualifying for the first time in his career.

“Nothing I wasn’t used to,” Gutschewski said of the challenging conditions Wednesday. “Any time you can get through and qualify—I have no complaints. I hadn’t played much since the [Big 12 Conference] tournament, but I didn’t really have any expectations coming in.

“I’ve been playing well the last month and a half. I was striking the ball really well today—in the wind, it’s nice when you’re hitting the ball well. I didn’t really plan to play in the qualifier this year, so this is a cherry on top.”

On Wednesday, Gutschewski was selected as an individual to the NCAA Division I Regional in Austin, Texas beginning May 13.

University of St. Thomas men’s golf coach Matt Rachey birdied two of his final four holes Wednesday to safely advance to the second stage of qualifying, shooting a 1-under 71.

Beginning his round with an early birdie, Rachey then carded four bogeys over his next five holes to fall to 3-over for the tournament.

The former University of Minnesota golfer tallied four birdies over his last nine holes to punch his ticket to Final Qualifying.

Surviving a six-for-one playoff Wednesday, Gopher golfer Ben Warian earned the final qualifying spot by winning the second playoff hole to advance for the third consecutive season.

Playing his first seven holes in 3-over, Warian recorded three birdies over his next 11 holes, including a birdie at the par-5 ninth to move into a share of fifth place at even par.

Warian was also selected to the NCAA Division I Regional Wednesday, advancing to the Stanford Regional on the heels of his first collegiate victory at the High Meadows Intercollegiate in Sylvania, Ohio before placing 16th at the Big Ten Championships Sunday.

Bennett Smed, a professional from White Bear Lake, Minn., and Kentucky’s Alan Lockwood finished as first and second alternates, respectively.

This year’s national championship marks the fourth time the event will be played at Pinehurst, and first since 2014 when Martin Kaymer ran away from the field for an eight-stroke victory.

The most recent USGA championship played at the 117-year-old, Donald Ross creation was the U.S. Amateur in 2019, won by Mississippi native Andy Olgetree.

Current Korn Ferry Tour player and 2020 MGA Amateur champion Frankie Capan, along with partner Ben Wong, won the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship when it was contested at Pinehurst in 2017.


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