Kevin Roy medals at U.S. Open local qualifer held at Sara Bay Country Club

jdill@bradenton.comMay 7, 2013 

MANATEE -- Kevin Roy grew up playing a Donald Ross designed golf course in Syracuse, N.Y.

And while the course didn't feature Bermuda grass or bowl-shaped greens like he encountered Monday at Sara Bay Country Club, it did have some familiar items in the setup that made his round on the southern Manatee County course feel comfortable.

So despite Monday's round being his second-ever at the pristine layout and annual LPGA Symetra Tour host venue, Roy cruised to a 2-under par 70 in garnering medalist honors at the U.S. Open local qualifier.

"I knew the greens are pretty tough out here, it's really the only defense," said Roy, a Tampa resident who is heading to past the local qualifier for the first time in his career. "I kind of to a hot start. I birdied two out of my first three, and kind of was going to hit to the middle of the green and try to two-putt after that."

There were five qualifying spots up for grabs and two additional alternate berths for the field that was made up of top amateurs, mini-tour pros and club pros looking to advance to the next phase of qualifying for June's major championship.

Players making it through the local qualifier head to the sectional qualifier.

The lone sectional in Florida is in early June at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in East Manatee.

Joining Roy were Bradenton resident Steve Arnold and former University of Iowa star Vince India of Deerfield, Ill., who each posted 71s.

Arnold, who hails from Langhorne, Pa., navigated Sara Bay with solid putting to card a number to get him to the sectional qualifier.

"I didn't hit it great, so I

kept missing greens," Arnold said. "But I was missing in the right spots, so I could chip it close to the hole."

The final two spots were up for grabs for six players that tied with 72s.

Bradenton amateur Qiwen Wong gained safe passage with a par on the first playoff hole.

The remaining five players (Matthew Galloway, Ryan Gildersleeve, Ryan Celano, John Lee and Brad Brunner) each bogeyed and continued the playoff to the par-5 18th.

Only Galloway and Gildersleeve made birdies, with Galloway converting an 18-foot right-to-left breaking putt to keep his U.S. Open dream alive.

Those two returned to the site of the first playoff hole, the par-4 10th and made pars. Then on the fourth sudden-death playoff, the second time on the par-5 18th, Galloway made a 15-foot birdie after Gildersleeve missed his chance to snag the last qualifying berth.

Galloway had previously lipped out a 3-foot par putt on the first playoff hole, but grinded his way to the last qualifying spot with pressure putting.

"I thought I was done," said Galloway, who credited a new putter in his bag for his general good form on the greens. "To realize that I've missed a putt that I could of easily got through and qualify, and to realize that I still have a chance, you know what? It's a playoff hole and it's all still good. So let's try to move on and do something with it. ... I'm a fighter and a clawer, and that's what I always do. I just kind of clawed my way through."

Now he'll claw his way to the sectional qualifier with fellow West Florida Golf Tour participants Roy, Arnold and India.

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