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Big names qualify for US Open

Jean Van de Velde, whose spectacular collapse cost him the 1999 British Open, earned a trip to the U.S. Open as one of 22 players who made it through 36 holes of qualifying Tuesday in Purchase, N.Y.

Tom Byrum had a 5-under 138 and was the medalist at Purchase, which offered the most spots on the second day of U.S. Open qualifying. Others who qualified from New York were Jeff Maggert, Jay Haas, Craig Stadler, Bob Tway and K.J. Choi, who last month became the first South Korean to win on the PGA Tour.

Thomas Levet of France, a two-time winner on the European tour, was among three players who qualified in Atlanta.

Other sectionals Tuesday were held in Tampa, Fla.; Houston; St. Louis; and Export, Pa., while a 12-man playoff for one spot was held in Rockville, Md.

The sectional in North Barrington, Ill., meanwhile, was suspended a second day by rain and will be completed Wednesday.

Van de Velde could have avoided qualifying for all the majors except for his shocking collapse at Carnoustie in 1999, when he took a three-stroke lead into the final hole only to make a triple bogey and then lose in a playoff.

The U.S. Open, which starts next week at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y., will be his first major championship in the United States in two years.

Among those who failed to qualify from the New York sectional were former PGA champion Steve Elkington and two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange, the last man to win the Open in consecutive years.

P.J. Cowan also failed to qualify. Cowan is the head professional at Great Rock Golf Club on Long Island and won three New York State Open titles played on the Black Course at Bethpage.

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