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Big names fall by the Open wayside

CHIP SHOTS

The U.S. Open is just that - open. That explains why some of the bigger names in professional golf failed to qualify for Pebble Beach next week, losing spots to others who played better in sectional qualifying on Monday.

Among the familiar names who failed to qualify are Memorial winner Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Sutherland, Jonathan Byrd, Bubba Watson, Bill Haas, J.B. Holmes and Charlotte's Mathew Goggin.

Remember Ty Tryon, the teenage sensation who flamed out a few years ago? He played his way into the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

And how about Erik Compton? He's survived two heart transplants, played 36 holes Monday for the first time since his most recent transplant, had his caddie leave 12 holes into his second round (to catch a flight to meet his full-time player), pulled a spectator out of the gallery and won a spot in the U.S. Open. That should shame some of the bigger names who decided not to even try to qualify. Evidently, it was too much like work for them...

Morganton native and N.C. State graduate Kevin Robinson is the new superintendent at Pinehurst No. 2. Robinson, who has worked at Pinehurst for 18 years including the last 11 as superintendent of courses No. 6 and 7, will help oversee the restoration project currently underway with Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.

"It's a dream come true to work on No. 2," Robinson said in a statement. "It's a big challenge but I can't wait to get started."...

Organizers are looking for another 70 volunteers to work the 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur at Charlotte Country Club in August. The deadline for volunteer registration is June 15. If you're interested, go to www.2010uswamateur.com or contact Brittany Murray at 704-944-5228 or at bmurray@charlottecountryclub.org...

According to the most recent rankings by Marketing Evaluations, Tiger Woods' Q rating - his popularity with the public - has fallen dramatically, dropping him from first to 25th in the list. Woods had been a fixture at No. 1 until his recent personal problems. Now, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is No. 1 on the list followed by John Madden and snowboarder Shaun White...

It's that time of year when college golfers who've just turned pro are showing up in mini-tour events. Former N.C. State star Matt Hill and former Wake Forest Walker Cup player Brendon Gielow are in the field for next week's eGolf Tour Bolle Classic at the Country Club of Salisbury and Sapona Country Club in Lexington...

OBSERVATIONS

It looks like Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey may be headed back to the PGA Tour. Gainey's Nationwide Tour victory Sunday bumped him to second on the tour money list and with the top 20 money winners earning tour cards for 2011, Gainey is in position to get back on the tour for a second try.

There aren't enough players like Gainey. He has a homemade swing, a hardscrabble mindset and down home personality that makes you pull for him. He's tough on himself but he's a grinder, and if he gets another shot on the PGA Tour, maybe he can stick for a while and hit it big.

With the U.S. Open just a week away, the list of pre-tournament favorites starts and ends with one name - Phil Mickelson.

It's tough to believe Tiger Woods can get his game sharp enough, particularly his driver, to survive the grinding test that the Open presents. If Mickelson is going to win a U.S. Open, this may be the one.

Concord's Cydney Clanton flamed out at U.S. Women's Open qualifying last week but she gets a chance to put that frustration behind her this week in the Curtis Cup matches near Boston. Clanton, the second-ranked women's college player, is expected to play a key role for the United States in its matches against the European Team this week.

Charlotte's Brendon de Jonge is quietly putting together an impressive season. His tie for 12th at The Memorial pushed him to 51st on the money list and should ease his mind about being eligible next year.

The next step for de Jonge is to win. He talked about being more comfortable on tour this year and it has shown. Now that he's been in contention several times - he was tied for third at Puerto Rico and fourth at Quail Hollow - de Jonge is getting accustomed to being on the leader board on the weekend. He may win soon.

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