CRESWELL, Ore. - Nick Sherwood always dreamed about playing in the U.S. Open. That dream became a reality on Tuesday when he defeated Daniel Miernicki of Oregon on the third sudden-death playoff hole of a sectional qualifier to advance to next week's 112th U.S. Open Championship.
Sherwood made a four-foot par putt on the par-4 12th hole at the Emerald Valley Golf Club for the win after making a critical 12-foot par putt on the par-3 11th hole to extend the match. Both players made par on the first sudden-death playoff hole, the par-4 10th, after finishing with a 3-under 139 on Monday before play was suspended due to darkness.
"I've been envisioning myself playing in the U.S. Open since I was five or six years old; especially since Tiger Woods won back in 2000" Sherwood said. "I can't believe it's actually going to happen."
Sherwood's win on Tuesday comes 25 years after his dad, Bill Sherwood, hit one of the biggest shots in Oregon State basketball history, a three-pointer in the final seconds to defeat Oregon at McArthur Court in Eugene. The younger Sherwood has heard plenty about his dad's shot and now has his own athletic story to tell.
"This does justice for sure; 100 percent for what this was for and what it means," Sherwood said. "Anyone would be pumped up for a U.S. Open spot. Playing against a Duck makes it extra special. I'm good friends with Danny and he's a really good guy. But all of this is a dream come true and something I'll never forget."
The 112th U.S. Open Championship will be played June 14-17 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., and Sherwood earned his way to the field by taking medalist honors at a local qualifier on May 7 and then claiming the second and final berth by finishing in the top two at the sectional qualifier.
Oregon State senior golfer Jonnie Motomochi carried the bag for Sherwood at the local qualifier and sectional qualifier and was by far more emotional of the two after the round.
"I honestly didn't know how to react after he made the final putt," Motomochi said. "I wanted to cry. I mean he's going to the U.S. Open. I can't imagine what his parents (Bill and Lynn) are feeling. I saw tears. It's unbelievable. I love the kid. It couldn't have happened to a better guy."
The 36 holes of the sectional qualifier were supposed to end on Monday but a two-hour rain delay forced the sudden-death playoff to start at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Sherwood and Motomochi hadn't planned for an extra day in Creswell.
"Matt (Rawitzer) brought us some underwear and some clothes," Motomochi said. "We didn't take anything with us because we expected it to be over yesterday. It was seriously one of the longest days we've ever had. Nick and I were even trapped in a bathroom together during the rain delay."
Sherwood said he didn't sleep much on Monday due to the excitement of being so close to playing in the U.S. Open but didn't get nervous until the final putt.
"I was really nervous and could feel my heart beat on that final putt," he said. "I stuck to the process and told myself that I've made a million of these putts. I only needed one more from that distance to win. The putt on the 11th hole was harder, but I had a weird feeling I was going to make that one. I knew I had to make it to have a chance."
"We lived together for two years and we talked so much about golf," Motomochi said. "I told him it's all about process and it all worked out with three of the most pressure-filled holes of golf that anyone will ever play. I gave him a little hint to keep his head down and he did that and made two huge putts to advance to the U.S. Open."
Sherwood said his dad will serve as his caddy at next week's U.S. Open as Motomochi has family obligations.
"My dad has supported me for so long so it will be an honor for him to carry my bag for me at the U.S. Open," Sherwood said.
"It will be a way cooler experience for his dad," Motomochi added.
Anthony Arvidson is the only Oregon State golfer believed to have previously played in the U.S. Open as he advanced in 2003 but missed the cut with a 75-78--153.
Ten past winners are in the field for the 2012 U.S. Open, including defending champion Rory McIlroy, two-time winners Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, and three-time winner Tiger Woods. Only four men have claimed more championships (four wins each): professionals Willie Anderson, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus and amateur Robert T. Jones Jr.