Aaron Wise, NCAA golf champ, earns U.S. Open spot
The secret to Aaron Wise's memorable last week of golf dominance starts in the mirror.
Wise, who a week ago won the 2016 NCAA Men's Golf Championship and helped the Oregon Ducks take home their first team national title in the sport, qualified for the U.S. Open on Monday by winning the sectional qualifier at Royal Oaks Country Club in Vancouver.
Wise had the lowest score of the day with a 9-under-par 135 over 36 holes.
Wise was the first of three golfers to punch his ticket to Oakmont, Pa., site of this year's Open.
The key for Wise on Monday was the same thing that earned him a national collegiate title: nearly perfect putting. And Wise needed his putter to help overcome a tough day with his driver.
"I didn't get off to a good start, I didn't hit my driver well all day, which is usually a strong part of my game," Wise said. "I was hitting it all over the place. I hit three fairways for about 15 holes or so. I was just really struggling but on the back nine my putter got hot, just like I did during that last round in the NCAA's."
To close out the day he sunk a birdie putt from the fringe on the ninth hole, a fitting end to an excellent round of putting.
Wise said that he hasn't made any big changes to his putting approach but that he is seeing the fruits of a daily labor at the right time.
"Whether it's a practice day or a tournament day and practice for 20 minutes in front of a mirror," Wise said. "I just make sure my hips are aligned, my shoulders are aligned, my head is not moving during my stroke. If I do those things I've been doing since December I will keep getting better and better."
The putting was one of the only things to stay the same for Wise. Clad in Callaway Golf gear after coming from the School of Nike, he told reporters Monday that he will turn pro before next week's U.S. Open.
"I've never played in a blue shirt before," Wise said. "It's all interesting and fun, but I'm just excited about the future."
Travis Howe, from Charlotte, N.C., finished second at 7-under.
The third and final qualifying spot from this sectional went to Matt Marshall, 31, recently hired as an assistant club pro at Portland Golf Club.
Marshall came away with the win after Austin Connelly bogeyed his first hole of the day on the third hole at the playoff.
Marshall had been working on his families vineyard, Marshall Davis, in Yamhill, Oregon, in the winter and had admittedly "semi-retired," after playing for seven years on the Canadian tour.
"I can't tell you how excited I am. I've worked so hard and spent so much time in this game. It's a dream come true for me," Marshall said. "I turned pro in 2009, spent seven years playing in Canada and could never quite break through. I've been working at the club for a month. Haven't been playing. And all of a sudden I'm going to the U.S. Open."
This article was written by Erik Gundersen from The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.