06 Jun 2023 | Amateur golf | Professional golf |

Aussie amateur Karl Vilips qualifies for US Open

by Tony Webeck

Karl Vilips US Open qualifier

Fellow Stanford alumni Tiger Woods won’t be there but Aussie amateur Karl Vilips will join the elite of world golf after qualifying for the US Open to be played next week at LA Country Club.

The 21-year-old – who goes by the nickname of ‘Koala Karl’ – was the only Australian to earn one of the 45 spots on offer to the 645 players who teed it up in US Open Final Qualifying.

Dubbed ‘Golf’s Longest Day’, 13 Aussies contested 36-hole qualifiers across America but only Vilips was victorious in advancing, earning co-medalist honours with US amateur Isaac Simmons at Woodmont Country Club in Maryland.

A two-time Junior Presidents Cup representative, Vilips opened with a round of 3-under 68 on Monday morning and followed it up with a 1-under 70 to finish at 4-under and secure a maiden major appearance.

After a bogey at the par-4 17th, Vilips birdied his final hole to finish one shot clear of what would have been a five-for-three playoff scenario.

Vilips’ qualification takes the total number of Aussies who will contest the US Open to seven, joining Cameron Smith, Lucas Herbert, Cam Davis, Min Woo Lee, Adam Scott and Jason Day, Lee dropping a "See you there," complete with koala emoji on Vilips' Instagram post. Of those who narrowly missed out, Marc Leishman came closest, also at Woodmont Country Club.

Two shots from first spot at the start of the second round, Leishman had a run of four bogeys on his front nine to turn in 2-over, ultimately signing for a 3-over 74 to be tied for eighth.

Bogeys at 14 and 17 in his second round effectively ended the hopes of Matt Jones at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles as Harrison Endycott and Justin Warren finished in a tie for 14th and 18th respectively at Canoe Brook Country Club in New Jersey.

Hailing from Perth, Vilips first came to notice within world golf when he won the US Kids World Championship at just seven years of age.

That early success brought Vilips to the attention of schools within the US and he attended high school at Saddlebrook Prep in Florida.

His success in the junior ranks – he rose to No.1 in the American Junior Golf Association junior rankings in 2018 – opened the doors to the best college golf programs within the US.

With an alumni that includes Woods and Tom Watson, Vilips elected to attend Stanford University where he has continued to forge an outstanding amateur career.

He won the gold medal representing Australia at the 2018 Youth Olympics, was named to the All-Pac-12 Newcomer Team as a freshman and was a member of the Stanford team that won the 2023 Pac-12 Championship, finishing tied for sixth in the individual standings.

US Open Final Qualifying Woodmont Country Club Rockville, Maryland 60 players for 4 spots T1 Karl Vilips (a) 68-70—138 T8 Marc Leishman 68-74—142 T21 Travis Smyth 73-73—146

Hillcrest Country Club Los Angeles, California 89 players for 5 spots T13 Matt Jones 71-67—138 T17 Grant Booth 67-72—139

Old Chatham Club Durham, North Carolina 76 players for 5 spots 54 Jimmy Zheng (a, NZ) 74-71—145 WD Rhein Gibson 71

Brookside G&CC and The Lakes G&CC Columbus, Ohio 103 players for 11 spots T24 Aaron Baddeley69-71—140 T31 David Micheluzzi 72-70—142 T43 Daniel Gale 74-69—143 MC Nick Voke (NZ) 67-77—144 WD Geoff Ogilvy 78

Canoe Brook Country Club Summit, New Jersey 67 players for 4 spots T14 Harrison Endycott 72-70—142 T18 Justin Warren 72-72—144

Hawks Ridge Golf Club Ball Ground, Georgia 43 players for 3 spots 31 Hamish Murray (a) 76-73—149

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