GREENSBORO, NC – With his former college golf coach on the bag, Greensboro College Pride alumnus Ben Nihart advanced to the sectional qualifying stage for the 2014 PGA Tour US Open. Nihart fired a 5-under 67 that featured seven birdies and two bogeys on the day. The local qualifier was played on the par-72 Greensboro Country Club Farm Course.
Once Nihart completed his round, he felt he would be in good position to advance out of the local qualifier. However, Nihart began to see all of the score cards behind him come in and realized that getting through to the sectional round might have been tougher than he thought. After sitting around the clubhouse looking at the scores, Nihart took a lunch break with former Pride teammate Brock Elder and coach to help get his mind ready in case there was to be a playoff.
After lunch, Ben saw that a playoff looked even more likely.
“Once I got back to the course and saw the scores, I then returned to the putting area to get my mind back into the game and prepare for the potential playoff,” he said.
When the playoff was announced, Nihart learned that he and three other players would compete for the final three spots in the sectional round. He felt there was still a good chance to get through. After all four players pared the par-4 first hole, they continued to the par-5 second hole.
Nihart hit a solid drive to set up a chance to reach the green in two shots. His second shot hit the green but rolled off the back side, forcing him to go up and down for a shot at birdie. When Nihart struck his wedge shot from the back of the green, the ball settled about eight feet from the hole, keeping his birdie hopes alive.
“I was not as nervous on the birdie putt, as I knew all that I had to do was par to continue in the playoff,” he said. His putt found the bottom of the cup, sending him through to the sectional round of the US Open qualifier.
“It was great to have Coach (Dirk Fennie) on the bag for me in the local qualifier,” Nihart said. “I knew that coach was really good at reading greens, and he knew my all-around game after playing under him for four years during my time as a member of the Greensboro College golf team.”
Nihart actually took two years off from golf after college. During that time he went to the Titleist Performance Institute and became a certified golf personal trainer at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro.
Ben will now wait to see where he will play in the sectional qualifier, with a chance to move on to the 2014 US Open, which will be played in nearby Pinehurst in June. He knows that his qualifier will be at the Ansley Golf Club in Roswell, GA, Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, MD, or Quail Valley Golf Club in Vero Beach, FL. The sectional round will take place June 2 with the opportunity of a lifetime.