EIGHT MORE players moved one step closer to a spot in the U.S. Open - June 13-16 on the historic East Course at Merion in Ardmore - by advancing through yesterday's Local Qualifier at Malvern's Applebrook Golf Club.

And one of them was the teaching pro there, Michael Tobiason, Jr., who made it to the 2011 Open at Congressional in Bethesda, Md.

John Lynch, a teaching pro from Delaware's Peninsula Golf and Country Club, won medalist honors with a 1-under-par 70 on the 6,800-yard layout. Brandon Knaub, a teaching pro at Maryland's Hillendale C.C. who once played on the mini tours, was next at 71. Tobiason was joined at 72 by South Jersey's David Sanders, who made it past this stage for the sixth time in eight tries. But he's never made it past the last hurdle.

All four will compete in the Sectionals at Woodmont C.C. in Rockville, Md., on June 3. That's one of 13 sites that will help determine the Open's final field. Two will take place before that, one in England and the other in Japan.

Four others yesterday had to survive an eight-man playoff for those who finished tied at 72.

Getting in (in order) were Chad Wilfong (Charlotte, N.C.), Joey Bonargo (Mechanicsville), Zak Drescher (Landisville) and Cory Siegfried, a 23-year-old Villanova graduate student who'd qualified at Applebrook for last year's U.S. Amateur He's the only non-pro from among the ones moving on.

The two who at least salvaged alternate berths were Rich Steinmetz, the pro at Spring Ford C.C. in Royersford, and another amateur, Haverford's Nelson Hargrove.