MICHAEL R. BROWN, a soft-pretzel factory manager from Cheltenham, was the medalist at yesterday's U.S. Open local qualifier at Exton's Whitford Country Club. The 40-year-old, who was the Golf Association of Philadelphia Player of the Year in 2010, advanced to one of the 11 36-hole sectional qualifiers to be held on June 3, the last step in trying to gain a spot in the 156-man national championship field that will tee off in the first round at Merion 10 days later.
Brown last advanced to the Sectionals in 2001. He was the only one of the 77 players to shoot par 72 on the 6,700-yard layout. There was an hour frost delay in the morning, and the difficult conditions produced an average score of a little more than 83. Brown will compete in the sectional at Woodmont C.C. in Rockville, Md.
Also advancing was Christopher Baloga, from Baltimore, with a 73. The 2008 Middle-Atlantic Golf Association Amateur champion and two-time Maryland State Golf Association Player of the Year (2010 and '11) is the golf coach at Loyola (Md.). He'll compete in the sectional in Purchase, N.Y.
Next, at 74, were John Ladow (Rockledge, Fla.) and David West, a seven-time Whitford club champ. Blake Morris (Waterbury, Conn.) grabbed the last slot with a 76. The two alternates, at 77, were Chadds Ford's Stephen Seiden and Michael Ladden, the head pro at Whitford.