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Big Georgia day in U.S. Open qualifying at the River Club

SUWANEE -- After more than two decades of attempts, Tim Weinhart finally finished where he needed to.

A teaching professional from The Standard Club in Johns Creek, Weinhart first attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open when he was 16. The 42-year-old finally made it Monday. Weinhart shot a 5-under par 137 over 36 holes at The River Club in Suwanee finishing as the third and final qualifier. He will be joined next week at The Olympic Club in San Francisco for the 112th and his first U.S. Open. Joining Weinhart in California will be Casey Wittenberg from Memphis and Jason Bohn from Acworth.

Weinhart, who received an impromptu congratulations from Atlanta Falcons' head coach Mike Smith, said he plans to fly to San Francisco on Sunday and start preparing for the challenge that is the U.S. Open.

"I will hit some hybrids and some longer irons this week," Weinhart said. "I don't hit it 350 like these guys. That's OK. I know how to wedge it and I am a really good putter. I am looking forward to it."

On Monday, Weinhart credited his putter for the low score and after playing 153 holes of golf over the past seven days, said he will take today off -- expect for putting.

"I putted it beautifully all day," Weinhart said. "I literally, probably ran over the edge probably seven or eight more times. Even they guys I was playing with were saying, 'I can't believe how many times you hit at the hole. It was a great day with the flat stick."

Strong putting was a theme among the qualifiers.

Bohn, who shot the day's low round of 7-under, hit a 35-foot putt and ran in "a bunch of" 20- to 25-foot putts.

"I got a lot of good breaks," Bohn said. "I made a lot of long putts."

Bohn, who turned 39 in April, didn't build up to play Monday like Weinhart did, even skipping the British Open qualifier to save an ailing back. But unlike Weinhart, Bohn is a Tour professional, something he credited for his strong day putting.

"I'm beat, I'm busted," Bohn said. "I'm almost 40, almost 40. I've got to tell you, this stuff is made for 20-year-olds.

And those in their 20s were tired.

Peachtree Ridge graduation Billy Shida came up a few shots short of alternate status, shooting even-par over 36 holes.

"Mentally grueling, it's a grind to keep your mind in every, single golf shot," Shida said. "On the physical side as well. It's why you see a lot more guys working out. My legs feel like Jello."

Shida played 36 holes on Saturday as a way to prepare for Monday's test, and even though he came up short, the preparation worked.

"I wanted to be ready. As far as my game went I wanted to be able to play well," Shida said. "I thought it would be a good warmup for me. And it was, I had a chance going into the back nine today. In these things that's all you can ask for."

Another Peachtree Ridge graduate, Ben Greene, didn't fair as well. The current Kennesaw State player shot a two-round 11-over par in his first attempt at qualifying. South Gwinnett grad Jonathan Fricke was 7-over and Duluth grad Justin Cho finished 1-over.

"I couldn't get anything going. Nothing was working right," Greene said. "It was good (to play the qualifier). I wish my game would have showed up more. There is obviously some work to be done."

Sometimes years of work. Just ask Weinhart who teaches nearly eight hours a day before practicing himself, something he does daily, into the dark.

"My wife's support is a big deal," he said of Penelope as she stood next to him with one of his four daughters, Taylor hanging on his arm. "She is very supportive of my practice, when I am still at the club at dark."