BRUNSWICK — Rotterdam native Bryan Bigley now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, but his heart remains in the Capital Region – especially when it’s time for the local U.S. Open qualifier.
The 34-year-old Web.com Tour member made another successful trip back home Monday when he carded a 2-under-par 69 to earn medalist honors and one of three qualifying berths in the local qualifier under damp and cool conditions at the Country Club of Troy. This is the ninth time that Bigley, a graduate of Schalmont High School and Siena College, has advanced to the 36-hole sectional, slated for June 3 at Century Country Club and Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase.
Sectional qualifiers advance to the prestigious 119th U.S. Open June 13-16 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California.
Also advancing from the local qualifier to sectional play were Jeff Schaller, third-year head pro at Twaalfskill Country Club in Kingston, and Canadian pro Jean-Philip Cornellier. Both posted even-par 71.
Andrew DeForest of Cottekill and Canadian amateur Marc-Olivier Plasse earned the alternate berths in a six-player playoff on the 10th and 18th holes for those that shot 1-over-par 72. Included in that group were eight-time Northeastern New York PGA Stroke Play champion Scott Berliner of Hiland Park Golf Club and amateur Alexander Bringsjord of the host club.
With this father, Rob, a five-time Gazette County Amateur winner and the course superintendent at Pinehaven Country Club on the bag, Bigley recorded four birdies.
Bigley believes his game is just starting to come around after a slow start this season. He has made just one cut in eight Web.com Tour events, earning $1,500.
“I struggled earlier in the year, but I’m trending up,” Bigley said. “I like where my game is. I had it going pretty good today and got it to 4-under-par with a few holes left. I bogeyed 15 and 16, but it was cold out there. It was windy, and tough to control the ball. I had a lot of mud balls. It was cold, with a little breeze. The course definitely played tough today. It was muddy and wet. The fairways played long, and the greens were slow.”
Bigley is one of the most successful golfers ever to come out of the Capital Region. As an amateur, he won two Schenectady Classics, then called the Gazette County Amateur, was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year while at Siena and captured the Capital Region Stroke Play Championship with a course record at Wolferts Roost Country Club.
He eventually turned pro and competed on the eGolf Tour, the Carolinas Pro Golf Tour and the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica before earning his card on the Web.com Tour, the feeder system for the PGA Tour. Entering this season, Bigley earned more than $128,000 in 58 Web.com Tour events, making 26 cuts with seven top-25 finishes.
“I’d love to play Pebble Beach,” Bigley said. “Pebble Beach is a course that is playable for me. It’s not 8,000 yards long. It’s also got the prestige. But I’ve still got 36 holes to go.”
Schaller, a 27-year-old graduate of Concordia College, forgot his golf shoes and had to purchase a pair from the CC of Troy pro shop before his round. It didn’t deter him. He started his round par, birdie, birdie. Although he gave up two bogeys after that on the front side, he balanced two more bogeys on the back nine with a pair of birdies. He thought his bogey on the 18th hole would prevent him from achieving his goal.
“I’m very happy,” Schaller said. “I’ve been trying to qualify for about 10 years now, and this feels great to finally do it. The good thing is that I played those courses at Purchase while I was in college, so I know them well. I think I’ve got a decent shot to advance out of the sectionals.”
Cornellier had two birdies and two bogeys in his round. Like Schaller, he’s been trying to qualify for the U.S. Open for about a decade.
Qualifiers — Bryan Bigley (Charlotte N.C.) 69, Jeff Schaller (Kingston) 71, Jean-Phillip Cornellier (Canada) 71.
Alternates — Andrew DeForest (Cotteville) 72, a-Marc-Olivier Plasse (Canada) 72.
Other top players — a-David Iaderosa (Canada) 72, Alexander Bringsjord (Troy) 72, Scott Berliner (Lake Luzerne) 72, Blake Hinckley (Chadds Ford, Pa.) 72, a-Michael Thomas (Scott Township, Pa.) 73, Casey Komline (Dorset, Vt.) 73, a-Jim Gifford (Ballston Lake) 73, Justin Hearley (Albany) 74, a-Taylor Bellemore (Hoosick Falls) 74, a-John Downey (Troy) 74, Zachary Temple (North Hartland, Vt.) 74, Ron Philo Jr. (Jacksonville Beach, Fla.) 75, Ken Tarling (Canada) 75, a-Jacob Katz (Buffalo) 75, a-David Hayes (Loudonville) 75, a-Benjamin Rublee (Pittsford 76, a-Steve Quillinan (Everett, Mass.) 76, a-Austin Fox (Delmar) 76, Trevor Jaycox (Gloversville) 7, a-Dan Russo (Hagaman) 77, a-Louis Walsh (Clifton Park) 78, Benoit Boudreau (Canada) 78, Ryne Varney (Syracuse) 80, Bryan Gorman (Troy) 80, a-Jim Welch (Valatie) 80.
Other local players — a-Eamon O’Brien (Troy) 81, Daniel McGurk (Lake George) 81, a-Spider Wilson (Red Hook) 82, a-Daniel Cardella (Troy) 83, a-Greg Bennett (Brunswick) 84, Matt Izykowski (Ballston Spa) 85 Paul Pratico Jr. (Niskayuna) 90.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.