Full story and pictures at usopen.com
He keeps saying the arrangement is not permanent, but Tjaart van der Walt came barrelling through the field with wife Vicki on the bag on Monday in the 36-hole sectional qualifier at Walton Heath’s Old and New courses to nail down a spot in the US Open.
France’s Alexander Levy was the leader of 11 golfers to qualify in one of the two international qualifying events. Five others qualified earlier on Monday in Japan. The final four spots at Walton Heath were decided in a five-person play-off after Van der Walt carded a birdie and two eagles in his last six holes to make it a five-way tie for eighth place at five under par.
And, as with his first Sunshine Tour victory in the 2013 Lion of Africa Cape Town Open, his wife on the bag seemed to be the charm for him.
As it was for Thomas Aiken, who had wife Kate on his bag, as he, together with another Sunshine Tour player in Garth Mulroy, also made it through that five-man play-off to earn a spot for the year’s second major which tees off at Chambers Bay, Washington State on June 18.
Australian Marcus Fraser nailed down his third US Open appearance on the first play-off hole, before the South African trio of Van der Walt, Aiken and Mulroy secured their spots on the third play-off hole, with Welshman Oliver Farr the odd man out.
One notable who failed to qualify was Peter Uihlein of the US. Uihlein, who won the 2010 US Amateur at Chambers Bay, carded rounds of 71-69 to miss the play-off by one stroke. Also failing to qualify was three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, of Ireland (139) and 2013 US Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick, of England (150).
Van der Walt, Aiken and Mulroy will join Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, George Coetzee, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel, who are already exempt into the US Open.