PHU standout advances in U.S. Open qualifying

Zach Sobel was the only amateur who advanced from last week's U.S. Open local qualifier.

Published May 13, 2007

Palm Harbor University's Zach Sobel, a 16-year-old sophomore, was the only amateur among six golfers who advanced from last week's U.S. Open local qualifier at Inisbrook's Island Course.

Sobel, the Times' boys golfer of the year the past two seasons, shot 70 to place third overall.

"The course was tough, but I knew I was capable of producing a score like that, " Sobel said. "I figured a 70, 71 would get that last spot."

Sobel and veteran PGA Tour pro Greg Kraft of Largo were the only Floridians to earn spots in sectional qualifying.

After shooting 37 on his opening nine, Sobel recovered with 33 on his second nine, including a 10-foot comeback putt on his last hole.

"I had a couple of breaks that helped, " Sobel said. "I almost three-putted the last hole. If that happened, I probably wouldn't have made it."

Up next for Sobel is the sectional on June 4. He is trying to become the third-youngest golfer to make to the U.S. Open.

Last year, 15-year-old Tadd Fujikawa of Hawaii beat out Michelle Wie in a sectional. The youngest golfer to play in a U.S. Open was Tyrell Garth, who was 14 when he competed in 1941.

"The chances of me making it are pretty slim, but you never know, " Sobel said.

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@sptimes.com or at 727 445-4169.