View of the U.S. Open trophy as it sits on the twelfth tee box during a course preview for the 2018 U.S. Open golf tournament at Shinnecock Hills.

(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Wildwood-Native Nabs Final U.S. Open Spot After Improbable Finish

35-year-old Chris Naegel pulled off an incredible comeback on his final six holes – then won his spot in a playoff.

June 05, 2018 - 12:59 pm

If you didn't have a rooting interested in the upcoming U.S. Open, you might have one now, thanks to an improbable comeback by Wildwood, Mo. native Chris Naegel in a qualifying tournament. He earned one of the final spots to participate in the PGA Tour major tournament at Shinnecock Hills – which has a $12 million purse. 

This will be the first ever major championship appearance for Naegel, who has played in four Tour (basically the minor leagues of the PGA) tournaments this season – including a tied for seventh finish at the Nashville Golf Open in May. He is on the World Golf Rankings at No. 1,081, but was once as high as No. 965. 

He was playing in Richmond Texas at the Shadown Hack Golf Club, one of the qualifying tournaments for the U.S. Open, and needed to finish in the top-3 to earn a spot. He was four stokes out of third place, with six holes to play. Naegel birded Nos. 14 and 15 – and it looked like he was about to pull off the comeback. 

But then he bogeyed on No. 17 and it looked like he lost it. 

He birdied the par-3 17th and needed an eagle on No. 18 to go into a tie for third. His first shot apparently went into a fairway bunker, but he still was able to eagle the hole and force a playoff. He then beat Blaine Hale, a college golfer at Oklahoma, and earned a spot at the U.S. Open. 

He will be in the field of 156 players when the tournament begins on June 14 at Shinnecock Hills in New York.  

Naegel was born in California, but played his college golf at Missouri Baptist University and says he claims St. Louis as his home. He joined KMOX's Mark Reardon after earning his spot in the U.S. Open: