U of M's Wetzel Medals, Rexing, Udovich and Former Gopher Flanagan Advance at U.S. Open Local Qualifying

May 13, 2024 | 5 min.
By Nick Hunter

  HUDSON, Wis. – With the help of his putter over his final 12 holes Monday at Troy Burne Golf Club, University of Minnesota golfer Jack Wetzel rolled in four birdie chances to claim medalist honors by shooting 3-under 68 to advance to Final Qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Open.

Joining Wetzel at the second stage next month are University of St. Thomas golfer Owen Rexing, former Gopher Angus Flanagan, Cretin-Derham Hall junior Sam Udovich and Wisconsin professional Keegan Drugan, who survived a two-way playoff to earn the final qualifying spot.

All five players now move on to Final Qualifying, a 36-hole event known as ‘The Longest Day in Golf,’ June 3 at 10 various sites across the country, hoping to earn a coveted spot in the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club.

“I was 1-over through seven and stayed patient and waited for the putter to heat up a little bit,” said Wetzel, the 2022 Class AAA individual co-champion his senior season at Edina High School. “I hit a lot of fairways and gave myself a lot of good looks. I was hitting it a little firm early on, but my speed control was a lot better on the back.

“I came in ready to compete—since the Big Ten Championships in late April I haven’t played an event. I was excited to get out and test my game out.”

Following an early bogey in the round, Wetzel carded three birdies over a six-hole span midround before saving par from 15 feet at the 13th.

He answered by sinking a 20-footer for birdie at the 14th and rolled in one final birdie from inside of six feet at the 16th to advance for the first time in his career despite a bogey at the last.

“I’ve played in a lot of these and have never been able to get through,” Wetzel said Monday. “I’m excited for the opportunity to move on. There’s going to be a lot of great players and it’s going to be a good test of stamina and endurance.”

Rexing, another co-medalist from the 2022 Class AAA championship, posted a colorful scorecard Monday, tallying three birdies against two bogeys on each side to earn a spot at the next stage of qualifying for the first time, shooting 2-under 69.

“I putted the ball well and just missed in the right spots,” Rexing said after earning his spot Monday. “Just one three-putt and one water ball, but other than that, I got it around nicely. I made a lot of eight to 12-footers—that’s how you score.

“I’d have to play out of my mind to advance [in Final Qualifying], so I’m just going to enjoy that, have a nice little vacation and get some extra golf in.”

Udovich, the defending Minnesota Boys’ Junior PGA champion and 2022 Class AA medalist, quickly climbed the leaderboard Monday by carding four birdies over his first 10 holes before taking back-to-back bogeys at the 11th and 12th holes.

After trading a birdie at the 16th with a bogey at the 17th, a par save from inside of 10 feet at the last put the 17-year-old Texas Christian University commit to the next stage of qualifying with his round of 69.

“I thought I played some really good golf today, especially with my driver. That was my most confident club in the bag,” Udovich said.

“I’m really looking forward to moving on—it’s been a while since I’ve qualified for a big event like this. I’m going to keep putting hard work into it and prepare myself mentally.”

Udovich won the finals of the Drive, Chip and Putt competition at Augusta National Golf Club in 2021 and advanced to the U.S. Junior Amateur at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore., the following year.

Flanagan, who won both the Minnesota State Open and Minnesota Golf Champions in 2020, as well as back-to-back Minnesota PGA Foundation Pro-Ams (formerly the Tapemark Pro-Am), played his first 11 holes in 1-over Monday before rattling off three birdies over his next four holes to card a 2-under 69.

A winner of four events while at Minnesota, Flanagan also won the Genesis Invitational Collegiate Showcase to earn a spot in the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in 2021.

Most recently, Flanagan finished tied for 40th in late March at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Club Car Championship at The Landings Golf & Athletic Club in Georgia.

Drugan, of Holmen, Wis., bounced back from two early bogeys during his front nine by carding four birdies over his first seven holes of the back side.

A late bogey put the 35-year-old in the clubhouse in a share of fifth with Kirk White at 1-under 70. He clinched the final qualifying spot by sinking his birdie chance on the first playoff hole.

White, from Blaine, Minn., finished as first alternate, while Tommie golfer Matthew Armstrong finished as second alternate.

This year’s national championship marks the fourth time the event will be played at Pinehurst No. 2, and first since 2014 when Martin Kaymer ran away from the field for an eight-stroke victory.

The most recent USGA championship played at the 117-year-old, Donald Ross creation was the U.S. Amateur in 2019, won by Mississippi native Andy Olgetree.

Current Korn Ferry Tour player and 2020 MGA Amateur champion Frankie Capan, along with partner Ben Wong, won the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship when it was contested at Pinehurst in 2017.


Qualifying Spots: 5 Alternates: 2

Nick Hunter

Nick Hunter got his start covering sports for the Mankato Free Press while attending Minnesota State University, Mankato. 

He then contributed to several online outlets, including Bleacher Report, prior to turning his focus to golf.

Hunter enters his 12th season covering golf in Minnesota as news editor for the MGA website. He resides in New Prague with his wife and two sons.

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