ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Arkansas senior Craig Lile advanced to the playing of the 100th United States Open after a winning a single playoff hole at the sectional qualifier at the Boone Valley Golf Club in St. Louis, Mo., Tuesday afternoon.
“I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” Lile said. “My coach always tells me he’s only seen me get nervous a couple of times before. Well, he would have seen me get nervous about 20 times today.”
Lile shot a 71-69 – 139 for the two rounds tying Kory Bowman of Springfield, Mo. for a sudden death playoff.
The first team all-Southeastern Conference selection, Lile, birdied two of the last three holes, including a 20-foot putt for birdie on the 16th hole to tie Bowman.
On the playoff hole, Lile hit his drive in the left rough and put his approach shot to the 18th green into the water. Bowman, who was in the fairway with some 145 yards to the green, followed by hitting his shot in the water as well.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Lile, 23, said. “I thought he was just going to hit it long and put it in the middle of the green.”
Bowman then missed the green with his drop shot, while Lile landed his within 12 feet of the hole. After Bowman narrowly missed a chip for bogey, Lile drained his putt.
Mario Tiziani of Minnesota won the qualifier shooting a 68-67 -135.
The sectional qualifier consists of 36 holes with the top two players advancing to the Open.
The 100th U.S. Open will be played at Pebble Beach in Pebble Beach, Calif. June 15-18.