Eric Dietrich of Cheshire, Conn. shot rounds of 67-66 to claim medalist honors in Sectional qualifying to earn a spot in the 2019 U.S. Open. The Sectional qualifier was held at Wine Valley Golf Club in Walla Walla, Wash.
The other two players to advance from this qualifier are Matthew Naumec of Wilbraham, Mass. And Spencer Tibbits of Vancouver, Wash., with each player finishing four shots behind Dietrich.
The three players from this Sectional qualifier will now compete in the 119th U.S. Open Championship, which will be held June 13-16, 2019 at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links.
Also qualifying at other Sectional qualifiers were Alex Prugh of Spokane and Richard Lee of Phoenix, Ariz. Prugh and Lee are past champions of the Washington State Amateur, with Prugh winning in 2005 and Lee in 2008.
Sectional qualifying was held on 12 sites, including in Texas on May 20, Japan on May 27, and in England and Canada and at eight sites throughout the U.S. on Monday, June 3. Sectional qualifying is contested over 36 holes, and is the final stage for those vying to play in the national championship.
The Washington State Golf Association (WSGA) is the local representative of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and conducted this Sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open Championship.
Dietrich had 11 birdies and an eagle over the 36 holes. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2017, where he was co-captain of the men’s golf team his senior year. He turned professional in 2017, and currently plays on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada.
“I seemed to be in complete control of my game today,” Dietrich said afterward. “The ball seemed to go wherever I wanted it to go. I had a few bad shots, but even they ended up in good spots. I’m not usually a scoreboard watcher, but after three consecutive birdies to start my back nine in the afternoon round, I took a look and thought if I can just bring it to the house I might make it.”
Walla Walla is a long way from Connecticut, but with Dietrich playing on the Mackenzie Tour, he was up north in nearby British Columbia, “and Wine Valley was the only location that worked for my schedule.”
Tibbits, an amateur and sophomore on the Oregon State University men’s golf team, was the medalist at the Local qualifier on May 7, earning a spot in today’s Sectional qualifier.
Prior to joining the Oregon State program, Tibbits was a three-time 3A Washington State High School individual champion, and in 2016 was named the PNGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year. In his freshman year at Oregon State, his 71.85 scoring average tied for sixth best in school history.
Naumec just finished his senior year at Boston College, where he starred on the men’s golf team. He turned professional three weeks ago, and he has joined Dietrich, who he has been playing golf with since the two were boys, in Canada to compete on the Mackenzie Tour.
The U.S. Open is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Founded in 1922, the WSGA is a 501c4 non-profit, amateur golf association governed by men and women volunteers. Serving nearly 70,000 individual members at more than 550 member golf clubs and 270 golf courses throughout the state of Washington and Northern Idaho, the WSGA works to continually expand the game of golf to people of all backgrounds.
The WSGA also serves as a statewide representative of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and works closely with a number of allied associations within the golf industry for the betterment of the game.