Butler qualifies for USGA Public Links event
By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
Rod Butler may have a little more authority with his Carson High golf team next season.
Not that the credentials of the 41-year-old CHS boys golf coach were ever questioned, but now that Butler has qualified to play in the United States Golf Association Public Links Championship, his credentials are as strong as ever.
Butler won the USGA Public Links qualifier on Tuesday at Thunder Canyon Country Club to become the only golfer from the event to qualify for the national tournament to be held July 14-19 at Murphy Creek Golf Course in the Denver area.
Butler shot an even-par 144 over 36 holes on Tuesday to win the qualifier by two strokes over Colby Smith of Auburn, Calif., and Reno’s Jared Becher. Butler shot a 1-under 71 in the first round and a 1-over 73 in the second round.
“I was excited about it,” said Butler about winning. “I’m excited about going there,” he also said about the national event.
Smith shot a first round 69, but then fired a second round 77 while Becher shot 73 in both of his rounds. The wind began to kick up in the second 18 holes and Butler admitted that the wind along with his knowledge of the course helped his cause.
“I wasn’t sure if even par would be enough,” Butler said. When the wind began to kick up, Butler said he thought to himself, “There might be a chance if I can keep it around par and luckily that held out. The first 18 was perfect. There wasn’t any wind at all.”
“It wasn’t horrible out there but just enough that it changed your club selection and the way the course was playing,” said Butler about the wind. “That helped out. I made a couple of mistakes but was able to bounce back from them.”
The win was made more gratifying by the fact that one of his former players, J.T. Cockerill, was his caddie and Butler said Cockerill was a great help. Cockerill, who will be a redshirt sophomore in golf next year at Division 11 Cal State Stanislaus, will also serve as Butler’s caddie at the national event.
The national event will be a grind with 18 holes on Monday and Tuesday. The top 64 players from those 36 holes when then advance to single elimination match play on Wednesday. From Wednesday on, the players left will play 36 holes each day, with a 36-hole championship round on Saturday.
Butler is hoping to at least keep his score down to 2-over 74 each day in the first two days of the event, saying he believes that could be enough to advance to match play.
“That’s my first goal,” Butler said. “Once it’s in the match play, I think anybody has a shot then.”
Another local player, Carson High graduate T.J. Duncan, finished 10th in the event with a 153 (76-77). Another one of Butler’s former players at CHS, Kevin Goles, who will be a sophomore at Division II Barry University in Florida, finished 13th with a 155 (76-79).