Erica Herr was cold and tired when she arrived at the scoring area for the U.S. Women's Open qualifier at Butler (Pa.) Country Club. She also was a little bummed, believing that her 78 in the second round of the 36-hole event would not be good enough to gain a ticket to the biggest show in women's golf.
However, after a quick examination of her scorecard, the official in charge said, "Congratulations."
A junior at Council Rock North High School, the 17-year-old Herr was ecstatic. Her total score of 152 was 10-over par but still the best of Monday's competition and earned her one of two available berths in the Women's Open beginning June 27 at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
"I felt there was no way a 78 would qualify for the U.S. Open," Herr, a two-time PIAA Class AAA girls champion from New Hope, said Tuesday. "I was disappointed. But when he told me that I had qualified, I said, 'Are you serious?' It was pure shock. I was so happy. That was my one goal in golf, to get into the U.S. Open."
To the field of 37 players, conditions in Western Pennsylvania were more fitting for a winter activity than golf. Temperatures were in the upper 40s but a steady wind made it feel much colder. It snowed at the start, the first time Herr ever competed with flakes falling, she said.
Eric Herr caddied for his daughter and helped with focus.
"My dad kept me from being distracted," she said. "We had hand warmers with us. Plus my brother Zach sent my dad a text saying, 'Pain is temporary but pride is forever,' and he kept saying that to me."
After carding a 74, the lowest round of the morning, over a course that played at nearly 6,700 yards, Herr opened the afternoon with three straight bogeys.
"I was so nervous," she said. "My dad said to take this like any other tournament. Don't think of it as a U.S. Open. But later I was so tired. It was getting dark and I was freezing."
This was Herr's third Women's Open qualifier. She said that after she competed for two years in New Jersey with a good number of LPGA pros, her father opted for Butler hoping the field would not be quite as strong.
The strategy worked. The drive home was longer but happier.
"I didn't know how to feel," she said. "I was happy, excited and shocked all at the same time."