Long before the leaders came to the finishing holes today, Ray Carrasco and Charlie Gibson had packed their things and left the Merion Golf Club.

Both left smiling -- for different reasons.

Two weeks ago, Gibson lost his PGA tour card because he had earned just $11,925 in the 12 months since acquiring it; winnings of $12,000 are required to stay on tour.

He received an exemption from sympathetic officials at the Kemper Open, but missed the cut. The following week at Atlanta, his last chance to get the $75, he failed to qualify.

That turned out to be a good break.

"After I missed at Atlanta I was really down and I was really tired," Gibson said. "If I had played in the tournament and missed the cut I would have been just as discouraged but even more tired. As it was, I just took four days off and did nothing."

The following week, Gibson played 36 holes on Monday and qualified for the U.S. Open. Then he went to the PGA tour school and shot 72-71-69-69. That was good enough to get his card back.

Card restored, Gibson came here and made the cut, by one shot, meaning he will pick up a check this week and is exempt from qualifying next week in Memphis.

"I'm exhausted right now," he said. "But as long as I have an exemption this week, I better play. I'll keep playing until I miss a cut, then take some vacation."

Carrasco, 34, will also keep playing unti he misses a cut, but he won't take a vacation when he does miss. He will return to the driving range in Irvine, Calif., where he gives 45 lessons a week as a teaching pro.

Carrasco had tried to qualify for the Open six times before this year and had never made it through local qualifying. At Merion he shot 145 in the first two rounds and made the cut by three shots.

"That's a nice feeling, a real feather in my cap," he said. "Just sitting around this locker room with the best players in the world this week has been a great feeling."

Tonight, after shooting 74 for 292, Carrasco flew back home to Irvine to let his lesson clients know he won't be available again this week because he is going to play at Memphis.

"But whatever happens, I'll always remember this, playing in the U.S. Open and making the cut," he said.