Open has something in common with ACC |

Open has something in common with ACC

By Steve Yingling

Tribune sports editor

A celebrity golf tournament broke out in the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday.

Not to be mistaken for the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, the U.S. championship of golf does cast a similarity. The only real comparison between the two tournaments is that very few players at either event shoot 18-hole rounds under par.

Oakmont was so difficult in Thursday’s first round that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vigay Singh and Ernie Els couldn’t craft a round under par (70). How often does that happen at a tournament? Only at the U.S. Open, where Nick Dougherty and Angel Cabrera were the lone players to break par on Thursday.

There was even talk among the players prior to the Open that 10-over par might win the title. Not likely, but it shows you how difficult the Open venues are set up.

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In the ACC, only four or five players consistently score under par. And only Rick Rhoden, Dan Quinn, Jack Wagner and Billy Joe Tollive are legitimate threats to post a total score under par.

Speaking of Rhoden, the six-time ACC champion will likely be well-rested before the July 13-15 championship in Stateline. A 3-under-par round of 69 on Monday wasn’t good enough to get Rick Rhoden into the U.S. Senior Open.

The 54-year-old Rhoden, who has won six American Century Championships, finished two shots behind runner-up Mike San Filippo in Monday’s sectional qualifier at the Quail Ridge Country Club in Boynton Beach, Fla. Rhoden was trying to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open for the fourth time; the former major league pitcher will serve as an alternate, though, and could gain a late entry. The Senior Open is scheduled for July 5-8, a week before the ACC.

Rhoden played on Champions Tour last year but lost his playing card after finishing 76th on the 2006 money list and then misfiring in qualifying. The top 75 players were granted tour playing privileges for 2007.

The biggest golf story of the week, however, took place in U.S. Women’s Open qualifying in Heathrow, Fla.

Alexis Thompson, a 12-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., became the youngest player to make the U.S. Women’s Open, supplanting former record holder Morgan Pressel by more than seven months.

Thompson qualified for the Open with a 36-hole score of 1 under par.

By the way, a 15-year-old, Vicky Hurst, won the sectional with a commendable 7-under total.

With the availability of junior golf programs and the improved access of golf courses to young players, how long will it be before we see a player under 10 qualify for the Open?

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or