Putnam said he will go through sectional qualifying at Brookside Golf & Country Club and The Lakes Golf & Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Michael Putnam joked that the USGA should give him a special exemption into next month’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
After all, he lives in University Place, a mile and a half from the course, and he played the first round at Chambers Bay. So it seems only fitting that he be a part of the field.
But alas, he will have to qualify to get there, as will his brother, Andrew, who earned his PGA Tour card for this season.
“It would be huge,” Putnam, 31, said of getting into the U.S. Open field. “It’s an event I really want to look forward to, but I can’t look forward to because I am not qualified for it yet. So it’s a weird spot to be in. Obviously, I would love to play, and it would be great to be there and have all the hometown support.”
Putnam, who shot an even-par 72 in Thursday’s opening round of The Players Championship and is tied for 60th, is in his third stint on the PGA Tour. At 6 feet 4, he looks more like a basketball player, and indeed he was an all-state 1A basketball player at Life Christian in Tacoma.
But he stuck to golf at Pepperdine, and after being named the Web.com Player of the Year in 2013 to regain his PGA Tour card, he hopes to stick around this time. Last year, he made 23 of 30 cuts and earned $818,777 while finishing 93rd in the FedEx Cup standings.
He is 111st this season after making the cut in 10 of 15 events and has three top-25 finishes. On several occasions he has been in contention through two or three rounds but has faded, with his best finish being a tie for 15th.
“For my whole my career I have made a lot of cuts and played pretty well, but obviously I would like to finish off some of those tournaments a little bit better.”
Putnam doesn’t think his final-round struggles are a trend, noting that last year he had his best scores in the final round.
“This year I feel like I am getting into contention a little more and backing off, whereas last year I was middle of the pack and was stepping forward on Sunday. I don’t know what it is, but hopefully I will play good fourth rounds the rest of the year and it will average out.”
Putnam does not have to look far for support. He and Andrew travel to a lot of events together, and “we’re hanging out and going to dinners here and there.” Another Putnam brother, Joel, is Michael’s caddie.
The previous time two brothers were members at the same time on tour was in 2004 when Brenden Pappas played 34 events and Deane Pappas played 22 events. And as Michael Putnam points out, “It’s only happened four times in history.”
Michael Putnam said he will go through sectional qualifying at Brookside Golf & Country Club and The Lakes Golf & Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. Putnam said he is 3 for 6 making it through the Columbus sectional into the U.S. Open.
Last year, he seemed a lock to get in after leading the sectional through 18 holes of the 36-hole event. But he played the final six holes in 5 over and the last two in 3 over to fall into a playoff for one of the final spots, which he lost.
“It was tough,” he said. “I got tired at the end of that day. I had played five weeks straight weeks and had just got done with the Memorial (the day before) and then 36 more holes. Hopefully I can learn from what happened last year, and this time I can finish if off.”
That would just seem right, having University Place’s own in the event.
“It’s going to be a great event, and it will be biggest event in the world that week,” he said. “All the lights around the world will be on University Place.”
• Nick Taylor, the former UW star, shot an even-par 72 and was tied for 60th on what he said “was an up-and-down day.” The highlight was making a birdie on the famous par-3 17th, the island hole, after hitting his tee shot inside 4 feet from the pin.
Puyallup’s Ryan Moore shot a 1-over 73 and was tied for 77th. He started on the 10th hole and his round was derailed by a double bogey on the 18th. He got a bad break when his tee shot just missed the fairway by a couple of feet and submerged deep into the rough.
Kevin Chappell, who owns a home in Kirkland, was tied for 128th after a 77.
• Rory McIlroy, the world’s No. 1 player, is in the midst of five consecutive weeks of playing but said he “will have two weeks off after Ireland (a European event May 28-31) and I’ll have plenty of time to recover for (the U.S. Open at) Chambers Bay.”