FORT MYERS — Edward Figueroa dug himself quite a hole in the U.S. Open local qualifier Monday at The Forest. A bad carom off a sprinkler head, a bad lie in a bunker, and a bad hole led to three straight bogeys to open his round.
Normally, the Florida Gulf Coast University freshman’s round would have kept on going down.
“A lot of rounds I tend to get too angry when I start off bad, and then I kind of blow it coming in,” Figueroa said.
Some reassuring words from his father, who also is his caddie, and the knowledge he still was hitting the ball well got the St. John Neumann grad back on track. He bounced back with an eagle, then a birdie and was off to a 4-under-par 68 to become one of five to advance.
“I’m really proud of myself that I kind of kept it together and had a really good round after that start,” said Figueroa, the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year.
Renaissance membership director Jay Westerlund won medalist honors with a 67. Daniel Mazziotta, a former FGCU golfer, came in the last group with a 70 to grab third, and Florida Gators star T.J. Vogel and Fort Myers’ Tommy Stankowski shot 71s. Stankowski also was in one of the final groups. He and Mazziotta knocked former FGCU golfers Gyles Robin and Justin McCarraher, and Kevin Curtin of Palm Beach Gardens from a three-way playoff for the final two spots into a three-way playoff for the first two alternate spots.
The five qualifiers advance to sectionals Monday, June 3.
Westerlund, 31, holed out from a bunker for eagle on the ninth hole to shoot a 6-under 30, then kept it together the rest of the way until he stumbled wit a double bogey at the last.
“I was just trying to stay in the moment every shot, not try to get ahead of myself,” Westerlund said.
Vogel, who played in the Masters last month, is shooting for his second straight major. With Gulf Coast High School grad and former FGCU golfer Josh Leppo as his caddie, Vogel birdied the first hole, but was up and down after that.
“I made a few mistakes, but I battled out there and hit a few shots down the stretch that helped me out, and birdied the last hole,” said Vogel, who was in one of the first groups to finish.
Vogel has a different mindset after playing Augusta National.
“It just gives me confidence that I’ve played at Augusta,” he said. “I had the opportunity to play with the best people in the world. After playing something like that, you don’t ever fear another tournament. there’s just no nerves anymore.
“It just kind of helps settle you down, playing in an environment like this. Normally an event like this would get your adrenaline going because it’s a one-day qualifier and you’re just trying to play well. Playing at the Masters, it’s completely changed how I feel inside at tournaments. I hardly ever feel any nerves anymore.”
Mazziotta, 24, was at the other end of the spectrum. Playing on the NGA/Hooters Tour this year, he shot 75-84 and 79-78 in his last two tournaments. Mazziotta credited his caddie, FGCU golfer Patrick Williams, with helping get his confidence.
“I needed that a little bit,” Mazziotta said. “I’ve been traveling a lot on the NGA Tour. I was playing all right, but these last couple of weeks were kind of rough ones. My last three rounds have been pretty bad. It was nice to get a good round in and prove to myself that I could still play a little.”
* * *
U.S. Open local qualifier
at The Forest, Bear Course, Fort Myers
1. Jay Westerlund, Naples, 67; 2. Edward Figueroa (a), Naples, 68; 3. Daniel Mazziotta, Fort Myers, 70; 4. T.J. Vogel (a), Cooper City, 71; 4. Tommy Stankowski, Fort Myers, 71
First — *Kevin Curtin (a), Palm Beach Gardens, 72; Second — *Gyles Robin, England, 72
72 — Justin McCarraher, Fort Myers
73 — Chris Trout, Fort Myers; David Kent, Estero; Jordan Burke, Bonita Springs; Michael Anderson (a), Parkland
74 — Kristian Caparros (a), Hollywood
75 — Brent Foockle, Bradley, Ill.; Fernando Figueroa, El Salvador; Kevin McAlpine, Naples; M.J. Maguire (a), St. Petersburg; Ryan Booth, Homestead
76 — Adam Dearmond, Fort Myers; John Koskinen, Cooper City; Rob Thorngate (a), Naples
77 — Alex Medinis, Fort Myers; Ben Balter (a), Naples; Daniel Jaramillo (a), Bradenton; Richard O’Hanlon, England; Steve Savor (a), Fort Lauderdale; Tim Carpenter, Fort Myers; Tony Welch, Miami
78 — Andy Matthews, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Anthony Myers (a), Cape Coral; George Mann, Naples; Jake Sherwin (a), Cape Coral; Matt Ujfalusi, Naples; Travis Hopson (a), Brandon
79 — Ben Lane (a), Fort Myers; Brendan Sheehan, Fort Myers; Christian Sheehan, Naples; David Herzfeld (a), Naples; Gavin Gillette, Bonita Springs; Jack Hernandez (a), Fort Myers; Mark Durland, Naples; Michael Heller, Berwick, Pa.; Mike Andre (a), Fort Myers; Mike Spetsios, Estero; Tom Speicher, Fort Myers
80 — Taylor Purcell, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
81 — Airik Medinis (a), Fort Myers; Cole Johnson (a), Parrish; Nolan Henke, Fort Myers; Tucker McLendon (a), Homestead
82 — Brian McDonough, Hanover, Mass.; Christian Zimm (a), Naples; Frank Magee, Auburndale; Jake Pasch, Fox Point, Wisc.; Jesse Lowe (a), Fort Myers; Jonathan Lowrey (a), Key Biscayne; Ryan Lacey (a), Naples
83 — Brent Jensen, Chicago; Daniel Gottlieb, Long Island, N.Y.; Matthew Markle, Naples
84 — C.W. Muck, Bonita Springs; Michael Mauk, Fort Myers
85 — Andrew Plesz, Fort Myers; Wes Trautman (a), Fort Myers
86 — Frazer Moore (a), Fort Myers; Joshua Brunet, Galliano, La.; Kevin Casey, Bokeelia; Michael Balliet, Fort Myers; Raymond Bucurenci, Sheffield Lake, Oho; Thomas Massey (a), Naples
87 — Jake Myers, Philadelphia
90 — Scott Gottko, Fort Myers
91 — Brett St. Clair (a), Bonita Springs; Sean McGinness, Fort Myers
92 — Juan Rodriguez, Naples
94 — Alex Malachowski, Mount Prospect, Ill.
WD — Jason Ruffin, Cape Coral; Paul Coulthurst, Naples
NC — Jim Milford, North Port; John Uram, Naples; Jon Brestle, Naples; Ryan Lorson, Horseheads, N.Y.
DQ — Kevin Johnson (a), Naples; Michael Bashaw, Antioch, Calif.