ECH’s Griffin advances in U.S. Open qualifying
East Chapel Hill High School junior Ben Griffin capped a record-setting week Thursday by shooting a bogey-free 5-under-par 67 and taking medalist honors at a U.S. Open Championship local qualifying tournament at Forest Oaks Country Club.
Griffin on Tuesday finished a 9-under 36-hole 135 to win the state 4-A high school championship at Pinehurst No. 8, posting the lowest total score in 4-A state tournament history. He won that tournament by nine shots.
Griffin shot a remarkable 32 on the front nine at Forest Oaks and edged four players who tied for second at 68 by one stroke.
The 120-man field included players from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.
Seven players — and two alternates who tied for eighth at 2-under 70 — qualified to advance to U.S. Open second qualifying which will take place on June 3. Players who survive sectional qualifying will advance to play in the 113th U.S. Open Championship at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., June 13-16.
Area competitors who failed to advance Thursday included Garrett Smith of Hillsborough who tied for 22nd at even-par 72, Soo Ahn of Chapel Hill (T-44th, 74), Stephen Lavenets of Rougemont and Todd Eckstein of Durham (T-56th, 75), Eric Shriver of Durham (T-69th, 76), Braxton Lloyd of Durham (T-91st, 79).
Open qualifying is open to pro golfers and amateurs with a maximum USGA handicap of 1.4 strokes.