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Auburn junior Brendan Valdes gets in U.S. Open field as an alternate

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Auburn junior Brendan Valdes gets in U.S. Open field as an alternate

Published: Jun. 10, 2024, 5:23 p.m.

~3 minutes

CARLSBAD, CA - MAY 29 - The Auburn Men's Golf Team celebrates winning the 2024 D1 Men’s Golf National Championship at Omni La Costa in Carlsbad, CA on Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Photo by Zach Bland/Auburn TigersZach Bland/Auburn Tigers

A week after a heartbreaking miss in a playoff at the Jupiter, Florida, U.S. Open qualifier, Auburn junior Brendan Valdes will be headed to Pinehurst No. 2 to compete in this week’s major championship, the USGA announced Monday.

It’s his second straight year playing in the U.S. Open. Valdes shot a +16 and missed the cut last year at Los Angeles Country Club. He will again be competing as an amateur, meaning he cannot accept prize money. Auburn teammate Jackson Koivun made the cut as last week’s Memorial Tournament but had to forgo a $50,000 check.

Valdes is one of six players who received full exemption into the field Monday. Adam Scott and Robert MacIntyre made the field by virtue of joining the top 60 of the world golf rankings. The tournament also granted four more spots to alternates from last week’s final qualifiers including Valdes, 2017 Masters winner Sergio Garcia, Otto Black and Maxwell Moldovan.

Valdes was the top alternate out of the Jupiter qualifier. There were five qualifying spots available at that location and Valdes made a three-way playoff for the final spot. He lipped out a putt that would have continued the playoff to another hole had he made the shot. Instead, it ended the playoff and left Valdes on the outside of the field before receiving an exemption Monday.

Valdes was a key part of Auburn’s 2023-24 national championship-winning men’s golf team. He is the No. 22 ranked amateur in the world. Valdes was as first-team All-American this season and had nine top-10 finishes.

He is the only golfer with Auburn ties in the field. Jason Dufner, Auburn’s most notable product, failed to qualify.

The first round of the U.S. Open starts Thursday morning. Tee times and pairings will likely be announced Tuesday.

Matt Cohen covers Auburn sports for AL.com. You can follow him on X at @Matt_Cohen_ or email him at mcohen@al.com

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