One of the greatest traditions in American sports begins Monday morning, sectional qualifying for the 2011 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club (Glendale, CA), Quail Valley Golf Club (Vero Beach, FL), Hawks Ridge (Ball Ground, GA), St. Charles Country Club (St. Charles, IL), Woodmont Country Club (Rockville, MD), Canoe Brook Country Club (Summit, NJ), Brookside/The Lakes Country Club (Columbus, OH), Springfield Country Club (Springfield, OH), Tunica National (Memphis, TN), Dallas Athletic Club (Dallas, TX), Gold Mountain Golf Club (Bremerton, WA). The qualifying runs between June 16-19.
The United States Golf Association has released qualifying information for Monday's 36-hole sectionals. The list includes tons of players teeing off for very few spots. There's so many player stories worth noting that it's hard to keep track. Here's a sampling:
David Ladd (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) - a PGA professional who hasn’t played on any golf tour in three years. The 48-year-old almost advanced to the Open through sectional qualifying in 1993, but he bogeyed the first playoff hole after being struck above the eye by a golf ball near the end of his regulation round and was an alternate.
Sam Saunders (Orlando, FL) - the grandson of golf legend Arnold Palmer. He has played in three U.S. Amateur Championships and one U.S. Junior Amateur.
Michael Johnson (Hoover, AL) - a high school senior who has committed to play golf for Auburn University. Johnson’s older brother, Bradley, was a standout player in high school and the runner-up in the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur before he was killed in a car accident in March of 2006. Johnson marks his ball with his brother’s initials and wears a wristband in his honor. Michael also qualified for the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur.
Billy Hurley III (Annapolis, MD) - graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2004 and served his country for five years, including a stint in the Persian Gulf protecting Iraqi oil platforms. Before his active duty, Hurley played in two U.S. Amateurs and was a member of the victorious 2005 USA Walker Cup Team. Hurley advanced to the final stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School in 2010.
Joseph Bramlett (Saratoga, CA) - a rookie on the PGA Tour who, along with Tiger Woods, is one of two players on the Tour with African-American heritage. The former Stanford standout has played in four U.S. Amateurs, two U.S. Junior Amateurs and a USGA Men’s State Team Championship. He qualified for the 2010 U.S. Open as an amateur.
Kevin Hall (Cincinnati, OH) - has been deaf since age 2 from complications of meningitis. Hall played at Ohio State University and won the Big Ten individual championship by 11 strokes in 2004. He has played in one U.S. Amateur, U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Junior Amateur.
Check out more stories from those teeing off here.
For the latest information on 2011 U.S. Open qualifying, stay with this StoryStream. Also keep an eye on SB Nation's golf site, Waggle Room.