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Amateurs filling spots for U.S. Open at Bethpage

Kyle Peterman, a junior at Western Illinois, won a three-way playoff on the second hole Tuesday outside Chicago to earn the final available spot in the U.S. Open. Not bad for an amateur.

Amateurs will make up nearly one-tenth of the 156-player field at Bethpage Black next week. Fourteen amateurs have made it, the highest total this decade.

At the moment, there are 155 golfers in the field because the United States Golf Association has kept one spot aside for the winner of the PGA Tour's St. Jude Classic this week, if the winner is not already exempt. If the St. Jude winner already is in the Open, the USGA will choose the top alternate at one of the sectional qualifiers.

Peterman, 21, made a birdie on the second hole Tuesday, defeating Eric Chun and Patrick Nagle. All three tied for first Monday, but a rain delay pushed the 36-hole event to dusk and forced the trio to return Tuesday.

Among the other amateurs playing at Bethpage will be Kyle Stanley, a junior at Clemson and the Ben Hogan Award winner as the top college player in the country this season. He shot 10-under 62 in the morning round of the 36-hole qualifier in Columbus, Ohio. His two-round total of 12-under 132 tied for first in a field that included many PGA Tour pros.

As for Peterman, he told the Peoria Journal Star that the only time he played against Tiger Woods, the defending Open champion, has been through a console on a popular video game.

"I've been to a couple of sectionals now. I knew that if I went out there and played my game, I'd be able to compete," he said. "It's just an indescribable feeling."

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