BRADENTON — Tommy Mou could not believe his eyes when he saw how quick the greens were at the Ritz-Carlton Members Club on Monday for the U.S. Open local qualifying.
So, for the first time in his young life, he took a different approach to putting, and it worked -- "I just closed my eyes on the putts," he said.
Eyes wide open, most of the field had trouble with the wind and the super fast greens at the Ritz-Carlton, which for the second consecutive year hosted a local qualifier.
Mou, 16, and Jong Yoon, 22, shared medalists honors with a pair of 70s. Tommy Rymer, 23, posted a 71, and Brad Lanning, 37, and Brian Ward, 25, recorded 72s.
Those five advance to the sectional qualifying, the last step before the U.S. Open. The only 36-hole sectional in Florida is at Jupiter Hills on June 4. The 2008 U.S. Open will be played June 12-15 at Torrey Pines Golf Club in San Diego.
Colton Turnquist of Austin, Texas, earned the first alternate spot with a 73, and Dave Perna of Sarasota was the second alternate with a 74.
"I don't think these guys have ever seen greens this fast," said Glen Murray, the director of golf at the Ritz.
Mou and Yoon are at IMG Academy in Bradenton and coached by David Whelan, the director of instruction at IMG. Mou, a big hitter at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, has been at IMG seven years. He is from Taipei.
A high school junior, Mou made four birdies and two bogeys.
Already a pro, Yoon visits IMG to take lessons from Whelan. He is from San Ramon, Calif., and a graduate of Santa Clara University. He rolled in a 50-foot putt on the No. 3 hole for one of his four birdies.
Rymer fired a 66 on the renovated Meadows course in 2004, and it still stands as the course record at The Meadows Country Club. On Monday, he made the turn at 32 and appeared to be on his way to a round in the 60s, but had to scramble by making some lengthy putts on the back en route to a 39. Originally from Hastings, Minn., he is in his final year at Florida State and plans to turn pro. He is a member at the Ritz.
Lanning and Ward played their high school golf at Riverview High more than a decade apart. Both are pros.
"My goal has always been to get to the U.S. Open," said Lanning, who was a member of Stanford's 1994 NCAA championship team, along with Casey Martin and Notah Begay III.
Ward was the 2005 Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year at the University of Tampa. He qualified for one Nationwide tournament last year and is a member at Misty Creek in Sarasota.
The Ritz-Carlton hosted one of seven local qualifiers Monday in the state. At MetroWest Golf Club in Orlando, Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer's grandson, carded a 67 to qualify.
Last week, Joey Lamielle of Sarasota qualified with a 71 at Innisbrook.