St. Paul's Downes, Berlin's Lindsay compete in local U.S. Open qualifier

Published on Monday, 10 May 2021 21:29


BERLIN - There’s never been a better reason to miss a day of school.

Instead of spending their Monday in the classroom, Berlin senior Jacob Lindsay and St. Paul sophomore Matthew Downes were participating in the U.S. Open qualifying event at Shuttle Meadow Country Club. Lindsay also celebrated his 18th birthday on Monday and was thrilled to start his week trying to secure one of four spots in the next round of qualifiers.

“[I’m] turning 18 and I get to come out here on my home course and the weather held off beautifully for us,” Lindsay said.

There were 109 qualifying events across the United States and Canada and 62 players at Shuttle Meadow. With a 1.4 handicap required to participate, both young players recognized the talent they were playing with.

“It’s a cool feeling, a good feeling,” Downes said. “I just have to stick to my game [because] it can get to you. Just play golf and try to stay calm.”

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Lindsay said. “I was playing with a couple of the players here on Saturday, who played at Penn State and tried to play on the tour, and got to see their games and got to see what it takes to be great out here. What a cool experience [this was] and you get to do these for the rest of your life. It’s the first of many, I hope.”

Neither player was able to make the cut as Downes finished at even par with a 71, one stroke back of contending for a qualifying spot, and Lindsay finished at four over par. Downes was one of seven players to shoot even on the day and those players participated in a playoff to determine the two alternate spots. He was one of five players eliminated after the first playoff hole.

“It was going well on the front, pretty smooth, but then on the back [I had] a couple of bad drives, but I scrambled nice, got some up and downs,” Downes said.

Downes was one under par after his first nine holes and finished the day with three birdies.

Lindsay was even after starting on the back nine and made his two birdies of the day. He put himself in some difficult situations later in his round and dropped four strokes.

“I started on the back [nine] and I shot even and I was pleased with the way I was playing,” Lindsay said. “I got to the front and kind of threw away some shots there. It was a good experience, a couple of guys I played with are trying to make the tour. It’s fun to play with all these other good players, especially at your home course.”

Lindsay, who is set to join the men’s golf team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute next year, expected the cut line to be around even and was pleased to be correct. While he didn’t play to that score in this event, he felt reaffirmed that he has a chance to make the cut in the future as he continues to play and get better.

“You come into it saying ‘if you shoot even you might have a chance,’ and I did,” Lindsay said. “[There was] validation that you don’t have to go out here and shoot five under, you just have to play your own game and be consistent. I thought I was able to stay in it well and not press too much, but at the end of the day a couple of bad swings got me. Knowing that it was that and not that I’m not good enough was good to know.”

Amateurs took all four qualifying spots from Monday’s event, led by Woodbury resident Christopher Pieper who shot four under par on the day. Milford’s Ben James posted a 69 (-2) to punch his ticket to the next round while Patrick Griffin of Unionville and Cody Paladino of West Hartford each shot one under to make the cut.

Greenwich’s Chase Barbe and Torrington’s James Giampaolo birdied the first hole to eliminate the other five players in the playoff for the alternate spots. Barbe went on to earn the first alternate and Giampaolo is the second alternate.

The event featured 80 golfers looking to reach the next round of qualifying en route to a spot in 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California from June 17-20. There will be 8,680 players playing in qualifying events this year in pursuit of 500 spots in the final qualifying round.

The four qualifying players will move on to play in a final qualifying event, in which players will play 36 holes for a direct ticket to the U.S. Open. There are nine final qualifiers in the United States with the closest being at Century Country Club and Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, New York on June 7.

Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Monday, 10 May 2021 21:29. Updated: Monday, 10 May 2021 21:31.