Now, the British Open offers only 12 spots from its final stage of local qualifying. The U.S. Open, during the last 10 years, averages 29 players who made it through local and sectional qualifying for a chance to play in the same championship as Woods and Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.
Getting to the U.S. Open is half the fun.
Qualifying, where nearly 800 players competed for 58 spots at Olympic Club, soon will be the only place to find such stories. This fall will be the last edition of Q-school, where some of these no-name players have six days to try to earn a job on the PGA Tour. That's for a chance to play in the big leagues for one year. This is a chance to play one week.
Martin, of course, knows what comes next. He was 26 and still trying to make it onto the PGA Tour when he last played the U.S. Open at Olympic Club. He never broke par, but not many did, including Woods. The course, built on a hill that drops down toward Lake Merced, is no pushover.
"I want to be excited," Martin said Monday night. "But I know when I get on that first tee, it's going to be really difficult."
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