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2015 Kentucky Open champ Kent Bulle plays his way into U.S. Open

Kent Bulle smiled after he won the 96th Kentucky Open at the Champions Course of Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville on Thursday, July 30, 2015.
Kent Bulle smiled after he won the 96th Kentucky Open at the Champions Course of Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville on Thursday, July 30, 2015. Lexington Herald-Leader

Kent Bulle, a former Glasgow High School standout who won last year’s Kentucky Open, cruised to a three-shot victory Monday in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Roswell, Ga. That effort earned him a spot in the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa., on June 16-19.

Bulle’s sectional was one of 10 36-hole qualifiers across the country with varying field sizes and spots up for grabs. He needed to finish in the top three in Georgia to make it to Oakmont, and he opened with a 3-under 69 before closing with a an 8-under 64 that included an eagle on the par-4 15th hole at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek Course.

“I’m so excited, especially it being at Oakmont,” Bulle said, according to a report on the U.S. Open website. “I’ve heard so much about it and I’ve seen it on television. I’m really looking forward to seeing it in person.”

Former University of Louisville standout Derek Fathauer also played his way into the U.S. Open by finishing tied for fourth at the Memphis sectional. There were 10 spots on the line in Memphis, and former Lexington Christian star Hunter Stewart missed the cut by one shot while Tyler “Chip” McDaniel (Clay County, UK) tied for 50th.

Bulle and Fathauer join Kentuckians J.B. Holmes (Taylor County, UK) and Justin Thomas (St. Xavier), who both play on the PGA Tour, in the U.S. Open field. Holmes and Thomas had already qualified for the major courtesy of their spot in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Bulle, who competed in college at Middle Tennessee State, turned pro in 2010. He competes on the Web.com Tour, and has made the cut in three of eight events this season. His best finish was a tie for 23rd.

“I felt like my game was on the verge of being really good,” Bulle said. “I just haven’t finished rounds off.”

The 28-year-old played his way onto the Web.com Tour by finishing second on the PGA Latinoamerica Tour’s money list last season. He had one win, two second-place finishes and eight top-10s in 18 events.

Three Kentuckians took part in the Springfield, Ohio, sectional, which had four U.S. Open spots available. Ashton Van Horne (Scott County, Belmont) shot a 2-over 142 over two rounds and tied for 12th. Cooper Musselman (St. Xavier, UK) at 8 over tied for 35th and Jesse Massie (Louisville Trinity, EKU) tied for 45th at 11 over.

There were 13 spots on the line in the Powell, Ohio, sectional. Adam Hadwin (U of L) missed by one shot at 4-under par. Blake Watts of Louisville finished at 10-over par and Scott Porter (Clark County) withdrew after a 4-over par 75 in his first round.

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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