EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

June 4, 2014

Oppenheim locks down Open spot

Tiger Woods isn’t playing in the upcoming U.S. Open, but Andover’s Rob Oppenheim is.

The former Rollins College star and current Web.com Tour player fired a 36-hole total of 64-74 -- 138 in the sectional qualifier at Purchase N.Y., Monday to punch his ticket to the Open, which kicks off on June 12 at Pinehurst in North Carolina.

Oppenheim played in an 80-man qualifier with four spots in the Open up for grabs He actually tied for the victory with Holden, Mass., pro Fran Quinn at -3.

”To play in the Open is a dream, as you probably can imagine,” said Oppenheim, who has played in a pair of PGA Tour events in his lifetime with a top finish of tied for 41st at the 2006 Canadian Open.

”I’m playing with confidence, playing pretty well right now. Hopefully I can just keep it up.”

Oppenheim won’t have much time to relax. The Orlando, Fla., resident is off to Ohio to compete in the Web.com Tour’s Cleveland Open. He made the drive yesterday, all eight hours of it, savoring the 36 holes on Monday.

”I can’t tell you what the drive might have been like if I missed the cut,” he said.

The 64 out of the gate, 6-under, put Oppenheim in prime position atop the leaderboard with a four-shot cushion,

”You know I struck the golf ball as well as I have in a while,” he said.

Even then, he kept his head down, trying to ignore all the leaderboards heading into round 2.

”I didn’t want to look up,” he said. “I mean, I knew I was in good shape. I didn’t know I had a four-shot lead.”

Conditions got tougher in the afternoon as Oppenheim switched from Old Oaks CC to the tougher Century Country Club.

”The greens hardened up and got faster, and things just got tougher,” said Oppenheim, who carded four bogeys to start his second 18.

From there, he hung tough, surviving a gut-check on the 18th tee. At that point, a bogey could have been disastrous.

”I drove it down the fairway and that was the key to the hole,” said Oppenheim, who poured in a birdie to assure himself a spot in the Open field.

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