Lowe a step closer to U.S. Open

Farmingdale's Matt Lowe tees off on the 15th

Farmingdale's Matt Lowe tees off on the 15th hole at Bethpage Black during the 2011 Long Island team championships. (June 1, 2011) (Credit: David Pokress)

Rather than being elated for making national news three years ago as the youngest golfer trying to qualify for the U.S. Open, Matt Lowe of Farmingdale, then 13, was disappointed that he didn't advance to the next round.

He was emotional back then, but he did say, "There will be other opportunities.''

So he knew his day would come, and it arrived Monday. Still only a high school sophomore, Lowe made it through the Long Island local qualifier for the Open, shooting 2-under-par 70 at Wheatley Hills Golf Club in an event that included most top local pros.

Lowe was one of nine golfers who earned berths in sectional qualifying, and was the only one to make it from the cold, windy afternoon session.

"Today was just a good day,'' he said, adding that he had switched to an unconventional "claw'' grip for his putting in a practice round on Sunday.

"My putting was the worst a human being could possibly putt. I could have had a baby putt for me and it would have been much better,'' he said, indicating he did not three-putt a single green Monday. "It's never happened before. Ever," he said.

This time, there was not the battery of television and newspaper cameras that he attracted as a curly-haired seventh-grader. This time, his gallery consisted of his parents and sister. He was not a novelty anymore.

"He's solid. He hits it hard, he's steady,'' said Piping Rock assistant pro Nick Beddow, who played with Lowe and shot 73. "He's a grinder. He stayed in the moment."

Lowe was one of six amateurs to advance among the nine winners. The group included Ryan McCormick, a sophomore at St. John's who shot 68. His college teammates Dylan Crowley (of Glen Cove) and Pat Wilson each shot 69 on a course the Red Storm often uses for practice.

Wilson mentioned that there are final exams this morning, which begged the question: Was a big night of studying ahead? "No chance," Wilson said.

They passed a big test Monday, as did fellow amateur qualifiers Anthony Aloi, a Furman senior who shot 69, and Kyle Sterbinsky, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Yardley, Pa. (71).

Piping Rock head pro Sean Quinlivan qualified (he shot 70), as did fellow pro Joe Horowitz of Long Beach and former Sebonack assistant pro Kirk Satterfield (each with a 71).

All of them advanced to the sectionals at Canoe Brook in Summit, N.J., on June 4, where they can qualify for the Open June 14-17 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Lowe said he is stronger and longer now than he was three years ago. But he is just as enthusiastic about the Open. "Great stories," he said. "It allows magic to happen."

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