The (War) Eagle Has Landed--In the U.S. Open

Rockville, Md.--Golfer Lee Williams, who just finished his collegiate career at Auburn, has qualified for the U.S. Open and he did it in spectacular style.

Playing on the final hole at Woodmont Country Club, he needed a birdie to get into a playoff on Tuesday, but he did better than that.

Hitting a nine iron from 125 yards out to an elevated green, his shot was dead, solid perfect for an eagle two. The eagle qualified him without getting into a playoff for a spot in the U.S. Open, which will run June 16-19 at the Pinehurst No. 2 Course in North Carolina.

He had back to back rounds of 67 in the 36-hole qualifier to secure one of 22 spots in the 155-person field that featured 75 percent PGA Tour pros, who are preparing to play in this week's Booz Allen Classic at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

"It feels great, especially to have qualified against the field that I had to qualify against," Williams says "I started two-over through four holes and then had a different swing though and went with it and started to play awesome. I made a whole lot of birdies.

"To have been six-under on my 36th hole was kind of embarrassing after playing so well," the All-American from Alex City adds." I hit it stiff all day. I made a couple of bogeys early in the first round and a few stupid bogeys in the last round. I was just trying to swing more level coming through on my shoulders."

By making his spectacular two, Williams avoided a nine-person playoff for the final five spots that includes players such as J.P. Hayes (62-67--129), Tommy Armour III (68-63--131), Olin Browne (73-59--132), Rocco Mediate (65-68--133), Omar Uresti (64-69--133) and 1995 PGA Champion Steve Elkington (67-67--134).

Some of the PGA Tour players who failed to qualify at Congressional Country Club include Paul Goydos (66-69--135), who lost in the playoff, Glen Day, Larry Mize, Billy Andrade, Jonathan Byrd, Joe Durant, Brian Gay, Tom Kite, Huntsville's Spike McRoy, Mark O'Meara, Heath Slocum, Hank Kuehne and Loren Roberts.

"You have to be excited when you have a former player qualify for a national open," Auburn coach Mike Griffin says. "The U.S. Open is our national championship. I know Lee will work hard and prepare well for his first U.S. Open, and I hope first of many."

Williams will also plans to compete in the U.S. Amateur Aug. 22-28 at the Merion Country Club in Ardmore, Pa.


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