Weston, Bernadet qualify for U.S. Amatuer Open
DAYTON – Aaron Weston had been through this before, so he was expecting his long day wasn’t over.
But Weston was pleasantly surprised – and relieved – when a playoff wasn’t necessary and he qualified for next month’s United States Amateur Golf Championship. Weston and Adrien Bernadet, who came all the way from France, were the last two standing as they qualified for the U.S. Amateur event on Monday in the U.S. Amateur qualifier at Dayton Valley Country Club.
And what a reward it is for Weston and Bernadet, who will be playing at San Francisco’s beautiful Olympic Club when the U.S. Amateur is held Aug. 20-26. It’s likely the conditions will be different from the brutal, 100 degree-plus day at Dayton in which the golfers had to play 36 holes.
The top two golfers in the event qualified for the U.S. Amateur and Bernadet and Weston earned the two spots as they tied for first with a two-round total of 8-under-par on the par-72 Dayton course. Weston shot 68-68-136 and Bernadet shot 69-67-136.
Washoe Valley’s Stephen Sear missed possibly qualifying for the U.S. Amateur as he settled for being the first alternate after shooting a 137 (69-68). Galena High graduate and UNLV golfer Matt Kinsinger couldn’t overcome a first-round 73 as he had the low score in the second round with a 66 to finish at 139.
Kinsinger finished as the second alternate along with Erick Justesen of Turlock, Calif., as Justesen also finished with a 139. But since Kinsinger had already left with Justesen finished, Justesen was awarded the second alternate.
Justesen had fired a 67 in the first round and was the last golfer on the course who could have forced Weston and Bernadet into a playoff. But after firing a 72, the U.S. Amateur berths belonged to Weston and Bernadet.
“I was sweating over there,” said Weston as he waited to see what his fate would be. “Oh man, good feeling now.”
Weston had come within one stroke of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur before and earlier this year came within one stroke of qualifying for the U.S. Open. He said the near misses actually helped him along with winning the Southwest Amateur in Arizona.
“That gave me some confidence, actually,” Weston said. “After coming close it feels good. It feels real good. I’ve been building off near misses. I’m excited, I tell you what.”
Weston, who is from Lone Tree, Colo., and just graduated from Colorado State, plans to turn pro after the U.S. Amateur and play in the first stage of PGA qualifying at Dayton. But that wasn’t the only reason why he came to Dayton.
“That – and signing up too late in Colorado,” said Weston on why he came to Dayton. “I had no other choice.”
But it worked out and if Weston plays like he did on Monday this fall at the PGA qualifier, he’ll have a chance to move on to the next stage. “I got a good look at the course,” he said. “I like the course. I think it suits me well.”
Weston had played in his share of college tournaments in which he played 36 holes in a day, so that also helped.
“You’ve got to drink a lot of water out here, that’s for sure,” said Weston, who added he lost count of how many water bottles he went through along with the two bottles of Gatorade he drank.
Weston had five birdies and one bogey in his first round and four birdies and no bogeys in his second round. “I didn’t make a lot of mistakes and when I did, my putting kept me in it,” Weston said.
But was Weston was resigned to being in a playoff after his two rounds?
“I was hoping eight was enough but it doesn’t look that way,” said Weston about his 8-under score. “I’ll go play some more. I’ve been close before.”
But then Weston said something that turned out to be a good omen.
“If the wind picks up right now I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” he said.
Then all of the leaders who could have displaced Weston and Bernadet faltered. Weston and Bernadet caught another break when Jess Stimack of Santa Rosa, Calif., who was at 7-under, had to withdraw on the 17th hole of his second round due to cramps because of the heat.
Bernadet was also planning on a playoff. “I’m real happy,” he said. “It was tough. I had to play very well.”
Bernadet, though, said he wasn’t bothered too much by the heat because he played in South Africa where it also becomes hot. “I played a lot in South Africa so it was OK,” he said.
In other results for local golfers, Carson City’s Jeff Duncan, who has qualified for the U.S. Amateur once before, finished with a 150 (73-77); Carson City’s Kevin Goles finished with a 153 (78-75); Carson City’s Tyson Roser finished with a 162 (84-78); Carson City’s Nicholas Carlson finished with a 152 (72-80); Carson City’s J.T. Cockerill finished with a 151 (74-77); and Gardnerville’s Eddie Shope finished with a 154.