Golf: North Oaks’ Frankie Capan III wins qualifier to advance to second U.S. Open

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Frankie Capan III has played in two U.S. Open final qualifiers — he’s two for two on advancing to the big show.

The North Oaks’ native was the medalist at Duke University Golf Club in Durham, North Carolina with a 36-hole score of 6-under par. Both rounds were played Monday in what’s known as “golf’s longest day” across the country.

Capan fired a first-round 68, then followed that up with a 66. The top seven finishers in the 84-man field on Monday qualified for the U.S. Open — which tees off in 10 days at Pinehurst Resort & C.C., also in North Carolina.

The Durham qualifier featured a seven-man playoff for the final two qualifying spots.  But Capan was comfortably in well before that, as he finished alone atop the leaderboard.

“It felt good,” Capan told reporters. “It wasn’t my best stuff on the greens today, but I hit it pretty nice. Had a lot of opportunities throughout the day and really just stayed very patient.”

He shot a 3-under, 32 on the back nine of his final round. Frankly, Capan didn’t find 36 holes to be all that taxing on Monday, noting he was in the first group off the tee in the morning and that his group “buzzed around” the course in the morning. He said both rounds went quickly.

“It really wasn’t too bad. I feel like I’ve been playing a lot of golf lately, so I’m used to hitting a lot of shots and practicing, and it didn’t feel all that bad to me,” Capan said. “Like I could probably do a workout  right now and feel just fine.”

Monday was merely a continuation of the 24-year-old’s recent string of strong play. He has four top-10 finishes in his last six starts on the Korn Ferry Tour, including a second-place finish after falling in a playoff just eight days ago in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The success has Capan in eighth place on the tour’s season-long standings. The top 30 at year’s end earn PGA Tour cards. Currently, there are no Minnesota natives on golf’s top men’s professional tour. Capan will soon aim to change that.

But first, he’ll compete in his second major championship. He also played in the 2022 U.S. Open at LA Country Club. He missed the cut, but the experience figures to serve him well as he preps for another shot at a national title.

Capan has had success at Pinehurst No. 2 in the past. He and his good friend, Ben Wong, won the U.S. Amateur four-ball at the course. And now he’ll aim for another United States Golf Association title there.

“We’ve won one,” he said, “may as well win another.”

Capan isn’t the only Minnesota native who qualified on Monday. Minnetonka grad Gunnar Broin — who just wrapped his senior year at Kansas University — shot 9-under over 36 holes at Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio, and then parred a pair of playoff holes to survive a 4-for-3 playoff to secure the amateur’s spot in the U.S. Open.

Notre Dame sophomore Nate Stevens — a Northfield native — finished just one shot back of the playoff in Columbus at 8-under par.

Cretin-Derham Hall junior Sam Udovich acquitted himself well in Georgia. The Inver Grove Heights native shot a two-round score of 8-under par at The Golf Club of Georgia, placing him in a tie for 11th. The top three golfers in that 68-man field qualified for the U.S. Open — 12-under par was the qualifying score.

Blaine native Caleb VanArragon shot a 2-round score of 4-under par to finish in a tie for 17th at the qualifier at Cherry Hill Club in Ridgeway, Ontario. The top seven golfers in that 66-man field qualified for the U.S. Open. Like Udovich, VanArragon finished four shots out of qualification.

Gophers alum Alex Gaugert — who caddies for U teammate Erik VanRooyen on the PGA Tour — finished at 3-under in Ontario.

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