Capan Is Medalist in Durham U.S. Open Qualifying; Broin Comes out of Columbus

June 4, 2024 | 8 min.
By Michael R Fermoyle

A little more than a week ago, Harry Higgs birdied the first hole of a playoff at the Visit Nashville Open and then eagled the second to defeat Frankie Capan and claim his second Korn Ferry Tour victory in eight days, after not winning for five years, and not having a single top-10 finish in more than a year.  On Monday, the two of them were involved in another drama, this time at the Durham U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying. Capan came out on top  this time. The 24-year-old former MGA Player of the Year (2020) made five birdies in the morning round on his way to a 2-under-par 68 at the Duke University Golf Club, and he cranked out another six birdies in the afternoon, which enabled him to shoot 66. The resulting 36-hole total of 134 was good enough to earn him medalist honors -- and reserve a place in next week's U.S. Open, which will be played at the iconic Pinehurst No. 2 Course in The Village of Pinehurst, N.C.

Sam Bennett, the former U.S. Amateur champion, shot a second-round 65 and tied for second at 135, along with Brian Campbell, who followed a 64 with a 71. Chesson Hadley and 2012 U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson were another stroke back, tied for fourth at 136.  

There were 84 players at Duke University GC, trying for the seven available spots. Higgs was there, too, and his newly rediscovered flair for the dramatic was on display once again. Sectional qualifying for the Open is often referred to as "The Longest Day in Golf," and for most of the day it appeared that Higgs was not going to advance. He shot 70 in the morning, and the 32-year-old journeyman pro from Raleigh was still even par for the day when he made the turn in his second round. At that point, he wasn't even in the top 20 in the standings.
But he birdied the 13th, and he closed his afternoon round with a pair of birdies, at the 429-yard, par-4 17th and the 455-yard, par-4 18th. That gave him a 67, and got him into a 7-for-2 playoff at 137 - and after two holes he emerged victorious once again. He and Carter Jenkins (71-66) got the last two spots that were available in Durham.

(It looks as though Higgs and Capan will both graduate to the PGA Tour next year. The top 30 on the Korn Ferry points list will move up, and both Higgs and Capan are currently in the top 10, halfway through the Korn Ferry's 24-tournament schedule. Higgs is No. 3 on the list with 1,101 points, and Capan, who has four top-10 finishes in his last six starts, is No. 8 with 670.) 

In Columbus, Ohio, at Ohio State's Scarlet Course, there were 68 players trying for five spots, one of which went to Gunnar Broin, the former Minnetonka High School star who recently concluded his senior year at the University of Kansas -- and is still an amateur. He shot a 6-under 65 in the first round, but consecutive bogeys at the 10th and 11th holes in the second had him on the outside looking in at what was going to be the Magic Number. He rallied with three birdies in his next four holes and posted a 68. That put him at 133 -- and into a 4-for-3 playoff. He parred the first two holes of the playoff and punched his ticket for Pinehurst. 

Nate Stevens, the former two-time Minnesota state high school champion from Northfield, missed the playoff at Scarlet by one stroke. He shot 66 in the morning, capping it off with birdies at the 16th and 18th holes. But in the afternoon, he was going the opposite direction at the end, with bogeys at both the 16th and 18th. That turned what could have been a 66 into a 68, and a potential 132 into a 134.  

Sam Udovich, the Cretin-Derham Hall junior (and TCU recruit for 2025), won the Seciton 3AAA individual championship last week, and in the process led the Raiders to a 30-stroke victory in the team competition, He didn't qualify for the Open on Monday, but he made an impressive showing in Alpharetta, Ga. After shooting a 2-under 70 in his first round at The Golf Club of Georgia's Lakeside Course, he started his second round birdie-par-birdie and then eagled the 357-yard, par-4 fourth hole. He ended up with a 66 and an 8-under aggregate of 136, but there were only three spots available for the field of 68 players, and he missed by four. 

It was 66 for seven spots at Cherry Hill Club in the Ridgeway (Ontario, Canada) Qualifying. Caleb VanArragon, who dominated Minnesota golf last summer, winning the State Open by nine shots and the State Amateur by 12 (with a 23-under total of 193 at Minneapolis Golf Club), put together a 4-under 138 (68-70) at Cherry Hill, but he missed by four. VanArragon finished one ahead of Alex Gaugert, the former Minnesota  teammate of Erik Van Rooyen, the two-time PGA Tour winner from South Africa. Gaugert is Van Rooyen's regular caddy these days, but he also plays in tournaments occasionally, and he tried for the Open in Ontario. He opened with a 67 but shot 72 in the afternoon round for a 139.


Duke University Golf Club

Par 70

Durham, N.C.

84 players for 7 spots 

Final results 

1. Frankie Capan, North Oaks                 68-66--134 (-6)

T2. Brian Campbell, Irvine, Calif.               64-71--135

T2. Sam Bennett, Madisonville, Texas       70-65--135

T4. Chesson Hadley, Raleigh, N.C.            68-68--136

T4. Webb Simpson, Charlotte, N.C.            67-69--136

T6. Carter Jenkins, Raleigh, N.C.               71-66--137 (came out of 7-for-2 playoff)

T6. Harry Higgs, Dallas                               70-67--137 (came out of playoff) 

Ohio State Scarlet Golf Course

Par 71

Columbus, Ohio

68 players  for 5 spots 

Final results 

T1. Justin Lower, Canal Fulton, Ohio            64-68--132 (-10)

T1. Seamus Power, Las Vegas                     64-68--132

T3. Gunnar Broin (a), Shorewood              65-68--133 (made it out of 4-for-3 playoff with two pars)

T3. Brendon Todd, Athens, Ga.                     68-65--133 (came out of playoff)

T3. Chris Nagel, Wildwood, Mo.                    64-69--133 (came out of playoff)

Did not advance

Otto Block, Detroit                                           68-65--133 (lost playoff)

Nate Stevens, Northfield                              66-68--134

Thomas Longbella, Chippewa Falls, Wis.  73-69--142

Ross Miller, Maple Grove                             73-77--150

Jack Wetzel, Edina                                       74-77--151

Golf Club of Georgia-Lakeside

Par 72

Alpharetta, Ga.

68 players for 3 spots

Final results 

T1. Jackson Buchanan (a), Dacula, Ga.     64-67--131

T1. Chris Petefish, Cumming, Ga.              65-66--131

3. Frederik Kjettrap, Denmark                     66-66--132

Did not advance

Sam Udovich, Inver Grove Heights         70-66--136 

Cherry Hill Club

Par 71

66 players for 7 spots

Ontario, Canada

Final results 

1. Mark Hubbard, Denver                       64-63--127

2. Adam Svensson, Canada                  65-65--130

3. R. Hoey, Rancho Cucamonga, Cal.   68-63--131

4. Davis Thompson, St. Simons, Ga.     63-69--132

T5. Greyson Sigg, Augusta, Ga.            64-69--133

T5. Aaron Rai, England                          70-63--133

7. Ashton McCullough, Canada              65-69--134

Did not advance

Caleb VanArragon, Blaine                   68-70--138

Alex Gaugert, Lake Geneva, Wis.       67-72--139


Michael R Fermoyle

Mike Fermoyle’s amateur golf career features state titles in five different decades, beginning with the State Public Links (1969), three State Amateurs (1970, 1973 and 1980), and four State Four-Ball championships (1972, 1985, 1993 and 2001). Fermoyle was medalist at the Pine to Palm in 1971, won the Resorters in 1972, made the cut at the State Amateur 18 consecutive years (1969 to 1986), the last being 2000, and amassed 13 top-ten finishes. Fermoyle also made it to the semi-final matches at the MGA’s annual match play championship, the Players’, in 1982 and 1987.

Fermoyle enjoyed a career as a sportswriter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch before retiring in 2006. Two years later he began a second career covering the golf beat exclusively for the MGA and its website,, where he ranks individual prep golfers and teams, provides coverage on local amateur and professional tournaments and keeps tabs on how Minnesotans are faring on the various professional tours.

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