David Roesch, a 30-year-old journeyman pro from Wisconsin who was on the verge of quitting competitive golf less than two weeks ago, found himself only two strokes out of the lead Thursday in his first U.S. Open.
Roesch, who mostly plays the satellite NGA/Hooters Tour these days, tried to qualify for a Nationwide Tour event in Chicago on June 7 but didn't make it. That night, driving to St. Louis in an attempt to qualify for this Open the next day, he had serious thoughts about quitting the game and getting a real job. But in a 36-hole sectional qualifier at Old Warsaw Club in St. Louis, he shot 72-71 and earned a spot in this week's 104th U.S. Open.
On Thursday morning, Roesch made the most of his unexpected opportunity. He came in with a 2-under 68, and at least this day, he was able to keep hope alive that he really was good enough to make a living at professional golf.
When he qualified in St. Louis, Roesch called home to his wife and started crying over the telephone. He called another friend and was still crying.
"When my wife and I got married last year, we talked about" him giving up the game, Roesch said today. "It was a tough decision for us. Should we play one more year, give it a shot or just pursue other avenues, other careers. We came down to it and said, 'Let's play another year.'
"This was actually going to be my last year playing if I didn't move up. Granted, this [round of 68] probably changes some things. If I can shoot 2 under in the first round of the U.S. Open, I don't think it's a fluke. It's not like I was holing wedge shots or anything. . . . Best field in the world and probably one of the toughest courses in the world and I played well. This definitely changes things."
Jim Furyk hasn't played in six months because of an injured wrist that was surgically repaired on March 22. In his first round of the season, he shot a 2-over 72 and said he had a pain-free day.
"Health-wise, there's no problem," Furyk said. "Obviously, I hit my share in the rough, so the wrist felt good. It actually felt better today than it has all week. I'm assuming that's probably a little adrenaline because I'm excited about playing. My wrist is fine. Now I just have to focus on my game a little bit. I definitely have some rust out there."
Furyk actually began the day with back-to-back birdies starting his round on the 10th hole and said he had two other decent birdie opportunities in his opening six holes. He ended with five bogeys and one more birdie for the round.
"Overall I'm really happy," he said. "I didn't do a good job of scoring. A lot of that was five to eight feet. I did a pretty poor job of putting."
Japan's Shigeki Maruyama nearly missed his 8 a.m. tee time. The reason why was sort of lost in translation during his post-round interview. Asked what happened, Maruyama said through his interpreter, "Big problem."
A Japanese reporter explained later that Maruyama's stomach was bothering him, necessitating a dash to a clubhouse bathroom.
Worth the Wait
After enduring a two-hour rain delay, amateur Spencer Levin needed just one deliberate swing of an 8-iron to energize his round. His tee shot on the par-3, 179-yard 17th landed on the green, took a few bounces and disappeared into the hole. He finished with a 1-under 69.
Levin, a sophomore at New Mexico, began his college career at UCLA before transferring. As a freshman, he helped the Bruins win the Pacific-10 title.
Staff writer Gene Wang contributed to this report.