Jim Thorpe, an O.J. Simpson look alike who has borne another famous football name for all his 27 years, yet never was a stickout as a halfback at Morgan State, won the medal in the U.S. Open local qualifying trial at Washingtonian's two courses yesterday.
His 143 for 36 holes included a four-over-par 74 on the National course in the morning and a three-under par 69 on the Country Club course in the afternoon.
Fourteen qualifiers from a starting field of 130 move on to sectional qualifying the first week of June. The Open will be conducted at Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Okla., June 16-19. Herbert Summers, of Langston won the final qualifying spot on the first extra hole of a three-man playoff with Bob Benning, Congressional pro, and Wayne McGowan, Andrews Air Force Base.
Bob Post of Lake of the Woods, came in with 145, also improving his score after shooting a morning-round 75 on the National Course. He came back with a two-under 70 in the afternoon.
There were the usual surprises. Marty West, who has won every amateur and open title in this area, survived the cut in last year's Open, has played on the Walker Cup team and in three Masters, never could get it going yesterday. He had a 74 on the country club course and then went seven over par with a 42 on the first nine of the National course. He finished with an 80 for 154.
"I was just overgolfed," said West who went to the semifinals of the North and South amateur tournament last week at Pinehurst, N.C."I was just too tired."
There was also Henry Seymour, former wrestling coach at St. Albans, who turned to golf a few years ago. Seymour, pro at Starlit Fairways in Alexandria and also of Greenwich Country Club in Manassas, had the best round of the day on the National course, a par 70 in the morning. But he took an 84 in the afternoon. "Just too much golf," he said, "I was so tired I couldn't swing."
Among those who did make it were George Graefe, Maryland Open champion; Gary Mankulish, former Maryland State and Middle Atlantic champion; Gary Mankulish, former Maryland champion; Dave King, of Bethesda, a two-time Maryland Rmateur champion; Roger Simpkins, top player at the University of Maryland for three years and now a pro, and Larry Wise, former Congressional pro.
Bruce Lehnhard of Evergreen had a hole in one on the 190-yard par three sixth hole on the country club course, using a four iron. That helped him to a 76 on that course and he came back with a 73 over the National trek for 149.
Thorpe started his afternoon round with a par and then had three straight birdies on putts of 10, 2 and 6 feet. He parred the next five holes and birdied the 10th when he put a wedge shot three feet from the hole. He made his only bogey on the 12th when his third shot, a four iron, went over the green. He parred in from there.
"I've been there (in the U.S. Open) twice before," he said. "I always think that this is my year and maybe it is. I had a football scholarship to Margan State but I leaned to golf and that's where I want to make it." Thorpe, a big hitter, had several drives over 300 years on the hard Washingtonian fairways yesterday.
Post had a 75 on the National course and came back with a 70 in the afternoon. He made an eagle on the par-five 12th hole on the country club course when he holed out a 50-yard wedge. He had a 37 on the front, then came home in three-under-par 33 thanks to his eagle and a birdie on the par-three 15th when he put a three-iron shot eight feet away.