Murdock, Coe-Kirkham to play at U.S. Open Final Qualifying Event
LARAMIE -- After earning two of only five individual qualifying spots at the Walnut Creek Golf Preserve Local Qualifier in Westminster, Colo., on May 10, Wyoming’s John Murdock and Kirby Coe-Kirkham both advanced to the 2021 U.S. Open Final Qualifying round.
They were both notified on May 19 that they have been assigned to play in the final qualifier in Dallas, Texas, at the Dallas Athletic Club on Monday, May 24.
In addition to playing their collegiate golf at the University of Wyoming, both Murdock and Coe-Kirkham are Wyoming natives.
Murdock is from Laramie, and Coe-Kirkham is from Sheridan. Murdock concluded his collegiate career in the 2018-19 season and has served as a graduate assistant coach for the Cowboys the past two seasons. Coe-Kirkham completed his sophomore season this past season of 2020-21.
This is Murdock’s third time moving past the local qualifying round into the final qualifying round for the U.S. Open. He previously played final qualifiers at the Portland Golf Club in Portland, Ore., and at Wine Valley Golf Club in Walla Walla, Wash. Coe-Kirkham will be playing in his first final qualifying round of a U.S. Open. While the local qualifiers were 18-hole events, the final qualifying events will feature 36 holes in one day of competition.
“I’m extremely proud of both John (Murdock) and Kirby (Coe-Kirkham),” said Joe Jensen, University of Wyoming Director of Golf. “This will be a great experience for both of them. It will be a very professional setting with a mixture of PGA professionals and the best amateur golfers in the country. Not only will this experience make them better, but it helps move our program forward in a positive direction knowing we have players who are competing side-by-side with the best golfers in the world.
“It is a great challenge to qualify for the U.S. Open, but I told them both to mentally prepare themselves to earn one of those spots. I know they will both be ready to play against this level of competition, having played with tour pros in the Genesis Collegiate Showcase during their college careers, and for John having played in previous U.S. Open qualifiers.”
“It was really good to qualify out of the local,” said Murdock. “The weather conditions in Denver were right up my alley, being kind of a tough weather day. It takes a tough mindset and being patient in those kind of conditions. It was fun to play with Kirby and it was great for both of us to qualify.
“I’ve learned a lot from the first couple of times I played in previous U.S. Open qualifiers. I know I’m going to be nervous to start the morning on Monday, but I’m hoping those previous experiences will help me be more comfortable. I’m going with my dad and my granddad, and my dad is going to caddy for me, so it will be a great trip.”
“The local qualifying was really cool because I felt like I could feed off John’s energy,” said Coe-Kirkham. “We played together in the same group in the local qualifier, which was great. John earned his qualifying spot at the end of the 18 holes, and then I won my spot on the third playoff hole. The excitement of qualifying for the next round didn’t really set in for me until after I got through the playoff.
“I’m approaching this next round knowing that I can play well enough to move on to the U.S. Open, but even if I don’t play my best I know that I’m going to learn a lot and will have a great experience.”
Coe-Kirkham was notified that he will be playing with PGA Tour professional Si Woo Kim of South Korea at the Dallas qualifier. Kim won the American Express PGA event this past January at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., earning him a purse of $1.2 million.
Next Monday’s Dallas Final Qualifying event is one of 10 U.S. Open Final Qualifiers in the United States, with an additional 11th qualifier in Japan.
The Japan qualifier will also be played on May 24. The other final qualifying events in the U.S. will be played on Monday, June 7.
The Dallas Athletic Club in Mesquite, Texas, features two courses, the Blue and Gold Courses that were redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in the late 1980s. The courses were originally designed by Ralph Plummer. Nicklaus won the PGA Championship at the Dallas Athletic Club back in 1963. Monday’s qualifying event will see the competitors play one 18-hole round on the Blue Course and one on the Gold Course.
Murdock tied for second in the Walnut Creek U.S. Open Local Qualifier, firing a 71 (-1). Coe-Kirkham shot a 72 (Even) in regulation and tied with two other individuals for fifth place.
Since only a maximum of five individuals could advance to the final qualifying round from the Walnut Creek Local Qualifier, Coe-Kirkham had to win a playoff against Kory Harrell of Denver and Daniel Sutton to earn the fifth and final spot on the third playoff hole.
The field of 84 golfers was primarily from Colorado but included individuals from as far away as New York and California.
According to the U.S. Open website, there were 8,680 individuals who were scheduled to play in 108 local qualifying events this year, with only 500 of those players advancing on to the final qualifying round. There are 156 spots in this year’s U.S. Open, with 49 of them already filled with exempt players. The individuals who qualify in the Final Qualifying tournaments will play in the 2021 U.S. Open.
The 121st U.S. Open Championship will be played June 17-20, 2021 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif.
Both Murdock and Coe-Kirkham have previously played with PGA Tour professionals when they each played in the Genesis Invitational Collegiate Showcase Pro-Am at the famed Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. That event was created in 2015 in connection with the TGR Foundation, a Tiger Woods Charity. Murdock played in the exclusive tournament in 2019, and Coe-Kirkham represented Wyoming in 2020.
* University of Wyoming press release