I've qualified for six Opens. In 1998 I made it despite breaking
my toe--I stubbed it on my suitcase in a dark hotel room--the night
before the 36-hole sectional. When I asked the USGA guy in charge
if I could use a cart, he laughed. (After the Casey Martin
verdict, I wonder if he'd laugh now.) My reward was Olympic Club,
where almost every hole is on a sidehill. My toe hurt with every
Last year I got through the sectional by holing out a sand wedge
on the final hole. This year I hit three balls into the water.
After the last one I thought, I guess I'm not going to Southern
Hills. I figured I needed to birdie the last hole. I hit a
four-iron approach that never left the pin, and for a moment I
thought that I'd holed out again, but my ball stopped a foot from
the hole. I shook in the putt to finish at five under. There were
29 spots and, it turned out, exactly 29 of us at minus-five or
I'm excited about Southern Hills. If I'm ever going to contend in
an Open, this could be the one. Southern Hills has bermuda
fairways, plays fast and is exactly the kind of course I like. At
the very least I'd like to finish among the top 15, something
I've never done, because that would make me exempt for next year.
Sure, qualifying is the easiest part of the Open, but I didn't
say it was fun.
Brandel Chamblee's best finish in the Open is 46th in 1999.
COLOR PHOTO: DARREN CARROLL