Chattanooga Mocs alum Oliver Simonsen ’21 has his eye on the next step at getting a crack at one of golf’s most coveted prizes. He tees off in Monday’s 36-hole qualifier for entry into this month’s United States Open.
This one takes him to the Settindown Creek Course at Ansley Golf Club in Roswell, Ga. This field and eights others around the nation and Canada plays 36 holes with a few qualifying spots available at each location on Monday. Those survivors move on to The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., for the main event June 16-19.
More than 9,000 golfers worldwide entered the competition with 48 exemptions already in place. Those increase through other criteria that automatically gets the world’s best to the Boston area. The rest started a journey that covered 109 courses in 44 states and Canada.
Local 18-hole qualifying to get to this stage began in April. Simonsen claimed one of five spots out of Hammock Dunes Club (Creek Course) in fine style in May. He and Derek Bard sat atop the 84-player field at the end of the day with matching 68s.
“I’ve never played at Settindown Creek,” he shared via text before making the trek from Sea Island where he has been training and practicing. “I’ll get practice rounds on Saturday and Sunday to get prepared and know exactly how I want to attack it.”
It’s been an amazing journey for the Ooltewah native. He is coming back from injury that kept him out of golf for an extended period. In fact, he had about 90 days between getting back into the swing of things and earning co-medalist honors in Palm Coast, Fla.
“I got back to swinging a club in mid-February,” Simonsen added. “The first tournament back in action was in April.”
Should he advance and win one of the toughest trophies to attain in world sports, Simonsen would become just the third player all-time to do it from start-to-finish beginning in local qualifiers. The other two? Ken Venturi (1964) and Orville Moody (1969).
PGA TOUR pro Stephan Jaeger ’12 is the last Chattanooga Mocs alum to play in the U.S. Open. The tied for 34th in the 2020 edition at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. This is the fourth time the Country Club has hosted the event, but fist since 1988. Past winners there are Curtis Strange (1988), Julius Boros (1963) and Francis Ouimet (1913). All three won in a playoff.