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Las Vegas golfers perform well at U.S. Open qualifier in Mesquite

Players came from all across the Western United States to the U.S. Open local qualifier in Mesquite last week, but the results had a strong Las Vegas vibe.

Grant Booth was medalist at CasaBlanca Golf Club with a 6-under 66. Matthew Manganello (67), Yuki Moriyama (68) and Casey Fowles (69) also secured spots and moved on to final qualifying for next month’s national championship at North Carolina’s Pinehurst Resort.

Booth, a Las Vegas resident born and raised in Australia, had a stress-free round with six birdies and no bogeys.

“Qualifiers are always the toughest part of the gig,” said Booth, who played college golf at UNR. “But to stay strong the whole day and keep hitting (the) good tee shots you have to hit out here and good shots into the green I think is more satisfying than anything.”

Booth also had good friend and PGA Tour player Taylor Montgomery as his caddie for the day.

“He’s one of my best mates in the world and he is a great person, so just to have him there helped,” Booth said. “To enjoy the day with him was obviously great and definitely helped me on the greens more than anything else.”

Manganello started well with birdies on his first three holes, then coasted in to qualify. Manganello, a senior at Fresno State, is a Las Vegas native who starred in high school at Eldorado.

Moriyama also birdied his first three holes. He got back on track after a shaky middle stretch with an eagle on No. 11.

“I had some tough moments out there, but I was able to grind through and then finish strong, so I’m pretty happy with that,” said Moriyama, who is wrapping up his college career at UNLV.

Fowles is also a UNLV alum, but it’s been quite some time since he wore the scarlet and gray from 2004 to 2006.

He had to sweat it out at the end. He bogeyed the final hole and had to wait to see if a large pack of players behind him could catch him and force a playoff for the final spot.

CasaBlanca was one of 109 local qualifiers taking place in April and May. Those who survive move on to final qualifying in early June at 10 locations, with about half of the 156 spots in the U.S. Open up for grabs.

“I guess it’s just another feather in the cap to get through to this point and to get to the next step,” Booth said. “It’s awesome. I just look forward to the next stage.”

In other qualifiers:

*Shadow Creek pro Erik Matthewson shot a 2-under 69, then won a four-for-one playoff to claim the last of seven spots at Escondido Golf & Lake Club in Horseshoe Bay, Texas.

*Las Vegas resident Jhared Hack birdied two of his final three holes to shoot a 4-under 68 and claim one of five spots available at Bermuda Dunes outside Palm Springs, Calif.

*Las Vegas resident Zane Thomas had seven birdies during a 4-under 68 to nab one of three spots available at the UNM Championship Course in Albuquerque, N.M.

Paris bound

Rose Zhang did more than just end Nelly Korda’s win streak on the LPGA Tour in New Jersey on Sunday.

The Las Vegas golfer more than likely booked her ticket to the Olympics with her second career title.

Zhang vaulted to sixth in the latest world rankings. That puts her well within the top 15 and helps her join Korda and Lilia Vu as locks to make the U.S. team. A fourth American can join the roster if they are inside the top 15 in the rankings. Megan Khang currently holds the 15th spot, with Las Vegan Alison Lee in 18th and Las Vegan Allisen Corpuz in 20th.

Five tournaments remain before the June 24 cutoff, including two majors: the U.S. Women’s Open at the end of May and the Women’s PGA Championship in June.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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