Jesse Speirs of Bangor will make his debut as a golf pro when he tees a ball up May 13 in a local qualifier for the U.S. Open.
Speirs will graduate from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., this weekend with a degree in religious studies, then turn his full attention to a career as a pro golfer.
“My first tournament as a pro will be a qualifier for the U.S. Open,” said Speirs on Monday. “It’s not the ideal way to start as a pro, but that’s how it worked out.”
The local qualifier he is playing in, at Ridgeway Country Club in Memphis, is one of several around the country. Only 63 players have earned exemptions into the Open. The rest of the field has to play in qualifiers.
The local qualifier is an 18-hole event. The top scorers advance to sectional qualifying in early June. Sectionals are 36 holes in one day. Top scorers there get into the Open, which is June 17-20 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Speirs, 23, had planned originally to play in mini-tour events and build competitive experience, but he saw this opportunity and adjusted his plans.
“I’ve been working toward this for the last 12 years and now it’s finally here,” he said. “It’s time to get started and just get on with it.”
Speirs, at age 15, nearly won the 2002 Greater Bangor Open at Bangor Municipal Golf Course. He finished second, a stroke off the lead.
After that he won a pair of Paul Bunyan Amateur titles among other events, started his college career at Texas Christian, then transferred to Mississippi.