Former University of Kentucky golfer and Versailles native Mallory Blackwelder is set for her first Women's U.S. Open after qualifying Sunday in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Blackwelder, daughter of former UK golf coach Myra Blackwelder, finished third out of 69 players in the qualifying event with a 14-over-par 156 total.
The top three finishers qualified for the U.S. Open. Anya Sarai Alvarez of Tulsa, Okla., and Garrett Phillips of St. Simons Island, Ga., tied for the top spot at 9-over 151.
Blackwelder, who shot 78s in both rounds, beat out Joy Trotter of Chino Hills, Calif., and Rachel Rohanna of Waynesburg, Pa., by one shot.
"It was nerve-racking, but I'm thrilled," Blackwelder told the Denver Post on Sunday. "I bogeyed 16 but kept going. This is the most difficult course I've ever played. I missed by one (shot) last year. I'm glad I kept out here to qualify because I already know the tricks of the mountain."
The 36-hole event was played on the same course that will host the U.S. Open July 7-10, the 6,940-yard Broadmoor East in Colorado Springs.
Organizers told the Denver Post that the course will play slightly longer than the 6,940 yards it did in the qualifying round. The USGA used the qualifying event as a dry run on the Broadmoor layout.
"The course is unbelievable, like nothing I've ever experienced before," Blackwelder said Monday. "They say the altitude helps the ball go farther, but I don't think so because so many holes play uphill and into the wind.
"And the greens were so firm, they're hard to hold, especially if you're hitting 5-wood into them."
Blackwelder could have tried to qualify in Arizona, but she decided to go for it at Broadmoor.
"I figured I might as well play there and get in the extra practice," she said. "Playing competition on a golf course is so much different than just playing a practice round. You really learn stuff in a tournament. I feel like I know what the greens do and how the course plays."
Blackwelder, 23, turned professional in 2009 and has been playing on the LPGA Futures Tour since 2010.
Her best finish on the tour this season was a tie for 41st at the Santorini Riviera Nayarit Classic in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, in early April. She tied for ninth in that tournament in 2009.
Blackwelder is scheduled to play in the Futures Tour's Teva Championship this week at The Golf Center at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio. She'll also prepare for the Open with tournaments in Decatur, Ill., and Crown Point, Ind.
She missed qualifying for the Open by one shot last year.
Is the Open the ultimate tournament? "It is," Blackwelder said. "The U.S. Open is something everybody wants to try to play in. I can't wait."
Wade, LaCrosse also in
Whitney Wade, a three-time Women's Kentucky State Amateur winner (1999-2001) from Glasgow, also made it into the U.S. Open field by tying for medalist honors with Reilley Rankin in a qualifier in Atlanta on May 15.
Wade previously competed in the U.S. Open in 2003 and 2008. She has competed in four Futures Tour events this season, making all four cuts with a tie for 15th at the Ladies Titan Tire Classic in Marion, Iowa, this past weekend as her best finish.
Former University of Louisville golfer Cindy LaCrosse finished tied for second at an event Rockville, Md., on May 23 to lock up a spot in the Open, too.
LaCrosse finished tied for 11th at this past weekend's LPGA event in Galloway, N.J.
Emma Talley, who just finished her junior year at Caldwell County High School, will be the first alternate from the Wilmette, Ill., qualifier after a sixth-place finish there on May 23.