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Matt Kuchar qualifies for US Open

Former U.S. amateur champion Matt Kuchar booked his place at next week's U.S. Open with a sparkling display in sectional qualifying on Tuesday.

Kuchar, who fired a four-under-par 68 in the morning, returned a 67 in the afternoon at Ansley Golf Club's Settindown Creek Course in Atlanta, Georgia to earn his fifth U.S. Open appearance.

U.S. amateur champion in 1997, the 27-year-old from Florida headed a 65-strong field with fellow American Jason Dufner, who carded rounds of 67 and 68.

The pair will join compatriots Lee Williams and Andrew Morse in the draw for the second major championship of the year at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.

Among those missing out at Settindown Creek were 1987 U.S. Masters champion Larry Mize, Australia's Nick Flanagan, who won the 2003 U.S. amateur championship, and 2005 U.S. Walker Cup player Brian Harman.

"Settindown Creek is a really challenging course," PGA Tour player Kuchar told reporters. "I've been playing well of late and it continued today.

"My game stayed strong and I stayed out of trouble. Shooting nine-under there is some good playing. Lately, I've been really good from 120 yards and in."  

Kuchar, whose sole PGA Tour victory came at the 2002 Honda Classic, first played in the U.S. Open in 1998 when he tied for 14th.

He also qualified for the major in 1999, 2002 and last year.

Two other sectional qualifiers took place on Tuesday, with a further five Open spots available.

University of Florida All-American Billy Horschel was one of three who advanced from Old Memorial Golf Club in Tampa, Florida and twice PGA Tour runner-up Jay Delsing was among two who qualified at Fox Run Golf Club in St. Louis, Missouri.

Delsing plays in his third U.S. Open but his first since 1992 at Pebble Beach, where he tied for 33rd.

Eighty-three players were already exempt for the U.S. Open before this week and a further 64 places were decided in 11 qualifiers on Monday.

The greatest interest focused on Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, New Jersey where teenage prodigy Michelle Wie failed in her bid to become the first woman to qualify for the U.S. Open.

The 106th U.S. Open starts next Thursday on Winged Foot's West Course where New Zealand's Michael Campbell will defend the title he won last year at Pinehurst.

June 7, 2006


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