Joel Dahmen wasn’t even sure he wanted to try to qualify for the U.S. Open earlier this month.
Ten days later, the Clarkston native opened with a 3-under-par 67 Thursday, one shot behind first-round leader Adam Hadwin at the 122nd U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Dahmen opened with a bogey on No. 10 but bounced back to birdie the par-3 11th and 201-yard par-3 16th. He dropped to even par after a bogey on his 11th hole, but closed strongly with three birdies on the last five holes to share second with Rory McIlroy, Callum Tarren, MJ Daffue and David Lingmerth.
“I made a good putt on the par 3 (No. 11) and that kind of settled me down,” Dahmen said in an interview posted on the USGA website. “Hit a bunch of fairways and greens after that. I just kind of kept the ball in front of me, kept it in play and took advantage of some of the easier holes.”
It was Dahmen’s strong finish at final qualifying June 6 that secured a spot in the 156-player field. Shortly after finishing tied for 32nd at the Memorial Tournament, Dahmen debated the pros and cons of a quick turnaround the next morning for the 36-hole final qualifying stage referred to as “golf’s longest day.” He earned one of the 13 berths in the field of 106 by birdieing his 33rd, 34th and 35th holes.
“I skipped it last year,” Dahmen told NBC’s Kathryn Tappen. “U.S. Opens are hard. The qualifying day is really long, but my coach (Rob Rashell) kind of said, ‘You’re playing well … and after you qualify then you can decide.’ Obviously, after you qualify, you’re never going to skip it so here I am.”
Rewind to May 5, and Dahmen explained to The Athletic he was considering withdrawing from final qualifying to concentrate on upcoming PGA tournaments, where he figured he’d be more competitive in comparison to the U.S. Open and could boost his position in the FedEx Cup standings.
“If I play phenomenal golf at Brookline, maybe I can finish top 20,” he said at the time.
Dahmen hit 12 of 14 fairways at The Country Club – an 86% accuracy rate compared to the field’s 54% – and birdied three of four par-3s.
Dahmen, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, missed the cut in his two previous U.S. Open appearances.
Former Community Colleges of Spokane standout Brady Calkins was even through seven holes, but played the last 11 holes in 6 over to finish with a 76. He’s tied for 125th.
Calkins tees off at 5:57 a.m. Friday while Dahmen is at 11:20 a.m.
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