Despite late miscues, Rask advances to section stage

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2012 - 12:48 AM

The former Gophers golfer's last two holes were a mess, but he still managed to shoot 69 to move on in U.S. Open qualifying.

Former Gophers golfer Clayton Rask turned in a 3-under-par 69 to tie Tom Hoge for medalist honors at Rush Creek on Tuesday and earned a spot in the section stage of qualifying for this year's U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Photo: Brian Stensass, Star Tribune

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Clayton Rask made a mess of his final two holes at Rush Creek in Maple Grove on Tuesday.

"One of those days, we all have them," he said of back-to-back bogeys to complete his round in a U.S. Open local qualifying event. "I was cruising along and then ..."

Rask let out a sound like air gushing out of a bike tire.

"Not how I wanted to finish," he said.

Despite the gaffes, Rask turned in a 3-under-par 69 to tie Tom Hoge for medalist honors and a spot in the section stage of qualifying for this year's U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Rask, a former Gophers and Elk River High School golfer who has spent time on the Peach State Tour circuit in Georgia this spring, started on No. 10 and made birdie. He rounded out his first nine with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 and added another on No. 2 in a steady rain.

As the clouds broke, so did his play. After getting to 5 under with a birdie on No. 6, Rask made a par at No. 7 before errant shots ruined an otherwise impressive card, especially so because Rask said he hadn't played Rush Creek in six or seven years.

He was forced to play his second shot on No. 8 lefthanded after the ball came to rest on the Phil Mickelson side of a tree.

"You move on," he said.

Rask's shot at a berth in the U.S. Open comes June 4 in the 36-hole section qualifier at Village Links of Glen Ellyn near Chicago.

Hoge's day at Rush Creek was far less eventful. The Nationwide Tour player called his round "simple."

"I just tried to minimize the mistakes, knowing even par would be a pretty good score here," said Hoge, the 2009 and '10 Minnesota Men's Amateur champion from Fargo. "Just make it easy."

Four players finished at even par at Rush Creek and went to a playoff for the final three spots into the section stage. Former Gopher Justin Smith moved on with a par on the first playoff hole, as did Eric Rolland and Travis Ross.

In Monday's local qualifier at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson, Wis., former St. Olaf golfer Chris Conklin of Eden Prairie was medalist with a 1-under-par 70. Jesse Polk and David Haley Jr. finished at even par and also advanced.

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