Maccario and Francoeur of Amesbury advance to the final qualifying phase of the US Open


May 30 – Not long ago, Nick Maccario and Chris Francoeur of Amesbury dominated the local high school golf circuit as members of St. John’s Prep.

A few years later, it’s safe to say that the two talented Linkmen have taken their game to the next level.

Both have already recorded many impressive victories at the state amateur level; now they will have a realistic opportunity to earn a spot in the coveted field at this summer’s US Open.

Maccario, who graduated from SJP in 2010, and Francoeur, who concluded his career with the Eagles in the fall of 2016, each reached the tournament’s final qualifying stage with outstanding performances earlier this month. Maccario shot a par 70 in a local qualifier at Southampton Country Club on Long Island; Francoeur hit a par 68 4-under before winning a 5-for-3 playoff in another local qualifier held at Kearney Hill Golf Links in Lexington, Kentucky.

Both Bay Staters now advance to the final 36-hole qualifier, which will take place at 11 venues across the country in early June. Should they finish among the top golfers in their respective fields, they would be guaranteed a spot at the 122nd US Open, to be held at the nearby Brookline Country Club from June 16-19.

“To be completely honest, I wasn’t even going to do it this year, and then a guy from Mass Golf who’s a competitor said to me, ‘Why don’t you give it a try? It’s in your home country,'” Maccario said. “I’m glad I signed up and now I just have to have some of the best 36 holes of golf in my career.”

“It’s pretty rare that you’ll shoot 4 cents and not automatically move on,” admitted Francoeur, who even played par golf for his first 12 holes before landing four birdies on his last six holes to secure a spot in the playoffs. He then cashed in two more birdie putts in the playoffs to officially secure his final qualifying ticket.

“It was good to pass and play well when I needed it,” he added. “I feel like my game is in a really good position.”

Francoeur – who recently completed a year of graduate school at Louisville and will stay in the area until he returns home this summer – birdied the 13th par-4, 14th par-5, 16th par-4 and the par-5 18th narrowly made the playoff cut. Because the field was so competitive, he knew he had to make a move down the home stretch to secure his place.

“I was playing 12 holes pretty consistently, but the putts weren’t going down,” he admitted. “I made a nice putt on 13 to get to 1 under and then just tried to get into an area where I was hitting every shot as best I could.”

Francoeur now plans to play his final qualifier at Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club & Wedgwood Golf and Country Club in Columbus, Ohio on June 6. It’s about a two-hour drive from Louisville and has one of the largest grounds in the 11 qualifiers.

Francoeur’s mindset is that with more entrants, more golfers will progress, which will give him a better chance of earning his place at the US Open.

“It depends where you’re going. Last year I went to New York and they only took about four or five golfers,” Francoeur explained. “This one has a lot of guys playing and they’re taking top 15 or 16. Champs is going to be really strong, basically like a pro event; I believe (PGA stars) Rickie Fowler and Jason Day were there to their qualification last year. I will still have to play very well but having 15 places instead of four makes the difference.

“Everything with my game seems pretty solid right now, so hopefully I can keep going and have a good day when qualifying comes around,” he added. “My putter has started to improve a lot since I’ve been here; we have a really good facility where I can work on my game every day and the coaches are really good.”

If he advances, Francoeur plans to turn professional immediately with his first event via the Open. If not, he’ll end the summer as an amateur and likely turn pro soon after.

“It would be huge,” Francoeur said of the US Open field. “Playing for a Major with all the best players in the world would be a great way to start my professional career.”

Maccario, meanwhile, has no plans to turn pro anytime soon. The 2020 Richard D. Haskell Mass Golfer of the Year works a full-time job while finding time to terrorize the golf courses with regularity.

He is coming off a win at the Norfolk County Classic, a mass golf event where he shot a ridiculous 65-65-130 (-10). This came just days after his tough outing in local qualifying where Maccario battled extremely windy early morning conditions to shoot par 70.

Now he will head to a familiar course in Roswell, Georgia – Ansley Golf Club (Settindown Creek Course) – for his final qualifying attempt.

“I know the course well, not that it assures me of making the US Open, but it’s just nice to know that I have local knowledge there,” Maccario said. “So that’s my first choice, we’ll see. You have to put in three courses and that was my best. It’ll probably be around 80 (golfers) for four or five places.”

Maccario has already tried twice for the US Open. Last year he missed a shot to earn an alternate spot and the other time he had an explosive holeshot (a 9) and finished with a round 78 to drop out of the standings.

In any case, he is looking forward and excited to have this opportunity this spring. Maccario lives less than 10 miles from the Country Club and has played the course a number of times for amateur events.

“To say this would be the highlight of my life and career would be an understatement,” he said. “To do it in my home country? That would be pretty amazing. But unlike other things I’ve been involved in, I’m not trying not to think about it, if that makes sense. it’s more about seizing the opportunity; you go to qualifying to say ‘I want to go to the US Open’, and that’s the point.”

IN THEIR BAG

* An overview of Nick Maccario and Chris Francoeur’s golf bags

Driver: Titleist TSi3

Wood: Titleist TSi2 (3 wood and 5 wood)

Utility: Titleist T200 3 iron

Irons: Titleist 620 CB (4 and 5 irons); Titleist 620 MB (6-9 irons)

Corners: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46, 52 and 58 degrees)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T Teryllium

Driver: Titleist TSi2

Wood: Ping G425 3 wood

Utility: Titleist U-500 3 Iron

Irons: Titleist CB (4-9)

Corners: Titleist Vokey Design (46, 50, 54 and 58 degrees)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2

Contact Nick Giannino at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @NickGiannino_SN.

Contact Nick Giannino at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @NickGiannino_SN.

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