PURCHASE, NY – Caleb Manuel has already had quite the golf career to date, but what he achieved today at a U.S. Open qualifier in New York may go down as his biggest achievement so far. Playing in a 36-hole qualifier that is often referred to as “the longest day of golf,” Manuel fired rounds of 69-68 – 137 (-3) to earn co-medalist honors in his qualifier. The payoff—Manuel earns a spot in the 122nd U.S. Open at The Country Club in nearby Brookline, MA in two short weeks.
Manuel, 20, is a Topsham resident and Mt. Ararat graduate who plays out of Brunswick GC. Having advanced through a local qualifier last month in Connecticut, Manuel found himself in a field of professionals and amateurs alike vying for just one of five spots in the year’s third major. This was one of nine sectional qualifiers being held across the USA today, all sites having just a few spots available to qualifiers to move on to Brookline.
His resume to date is already pretty impressive. In 2020 he holed out for albatross on the final hole of the Maine Junior Championship to win by one. And just last year he won the Maine Amateur Championship at Kebo Valley in addition to qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour event at Falmouth CC.
Manuel just wrapped up his sophomore season at the University of Connecticut, where he won the Big East Championship and nearly advanced to the NCAA Division 1 finals. But this win is on a different level. He moves on to a major championship for the first time, doing what so many only dream of when they send in their entry for the U.S. Open. As an open event, anyone with a Handicap Index® of 1.4 or less can apply to play, but the reality is that most players come up short in their quest.
Manuel becomes just the third Maine player in the last half century that Maine Golf knows of to qualify for the U.S. Open. Casey Borque of Biddeford was the last to do so, playing his way into the 2004 Open at Shinnecock Hills. Before that, Sean Gorgone was the only Mainer to achieve the feat, qualifying for the 1991 Open at Hazeltine National in the same summer he won the Maine Amateur and New England Amateur. Oddly enough, Gorgone also was from the town of Topsham, went to Mt. Ararat, and played his golf out of Brunswick.
So whether you’re scrolling the leaderboard of the year’s third major on your phone or attending in person just down the road in Boston, there among the names of major champions and Hall-of-Famers will be Caleb Manuel, just a kid from Maine with a ton of game. And let’s not forget who won the first U.S. Open when it was played at The Country Club back in 1913—Frances Ouimet, a local amateur with big dreams, who shocked the golf world to win an Open that is still talked about to this day.