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Golf: Knapp's shoulder improves as U.S. Open qualifier nears

June 02, 2012|By Bryce Alderton
  • Jake Knapp, an Estancia High senior and UCLA commit, will compete in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier Monday at the TPC at Harding Park in San Francisco and Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif.
Jake Knapp, an Estancia High senior and UCLA commit, will… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Jake Knapp is keeping things simple heading into sectional qualifying for theU.S. OpenMonday.

The 36-hole qualifier will be on two courses: TPC at Harding Park in San Francisco and Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif. Knapp, the Estancia High senior and UCLA commit, will tee off on the first hole at Harding Park at 7:54 a.m. Monday on a quest to reach theU.S. Openfor the first time.

"I'm trying not to change too much," Knapp said by phone Thursday. "Go out there and play like it's any other day; just try to focus and not do anything crazy."

Knapp has reached this round before, when Oakmont Country Club in Glendale hosted the sectional qualifier. The United States Golf Assn. rotates between Northern and Southern California each year as host for the sectional.

Maintaining an even keel is important for Knapp.

"I learned to stay calm and not let one swing affect me," he said. "It's a long day on two different courses. I'll try to have fun and not think too much."

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Knapp estimates he'll have to shoot under par to have a chance to earn one of the "handful of spots," as the USGA says on its website, into the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco June 14 through 17.

The USGA estimates roughly half of the 156-player U.S. Open field will come from the 13 sectional qualifiers, 11 in the United States and one each in Japan and England.

The field for both Harding Park and Lake Merced has 126 players scheduled to play for the opportunity of a lifetime. Knapp has said qualifying for the U.S. Open would be "life-changing."

Sure there are challenges, but Knapp can shoot low – he proved that with a 10-under 61 in local qualifying at Newport Beach Country Club May 16.

But five days later Knapp battled right-shoulder pain en route to a 75 in the CIF Southern Section individual final at Victoria Country Club in Riverside.

He said the pain came from inflammation, and added that the shoulder is "not 100 percent" but is doing "a lot better." Knapp played a practice round at Lake Merced Saturday followed by his first look at Harding Park Sunday.

Both are storied courses, which opened during the 1920s. Harding Park hosted the 2009 President's Cup, when Fred Couples captained the U.S. team. The course also staged the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship the last two years for the Champions Tour. Lake Merced hosted the 1990 USGA Junior Championship, Tiger Woods' inaugural USGA tournament.

"Lake Merced has harder greens which are very difficult," Knapp said.

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