However, this year he’ll have company from a teammate in trying to make golf’s second major, which will be held at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina from June 12-15.
McElyea and Jobim Carlos had big seasons for USF and finished first and second at May 12’s regional qualifier at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz to advance to the 36-hole sectional qualifier today, which is being split across Lake Merced Golf Club and the Olympic Club’s Ocean Course.
They both made first-team All-West Coast Conference, with McElyea having earned that distinction for the second consecutive season. His team-low stroke average of 72.53 helped him finish as USF’s top finisher in half of the team’s 10 events this season.
McElyea, who took medalist honors at the local qualifier by shooting 3-under-par 67, mentioned the play of Carlos being a big driving force toward his big season.
“The past year, we were both off and on leading our team in tournament wins, and we push each other in practice,” McElyea said. “On any given day, we’re beating each other.”
Carlos, a junior who graduated from the Mont St. Michael School in the Philippines before coming overseas to USF, had three top-10 finishes this season, including his first college victory at the Cabo del Sol Invitational in the fall.
Not only is Carlos excited to have an opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Open, he wants to erase the memory of his spotty play during 2012 U.S. Open sectional qualifying, when he was a freshman living in America for the first time in his life.
“Not a lot of people can be in this position so I’m trying to make the most of it,” Carlos said. “Two years ago, when I tried to make the sectional, I didn’t have any expectations and I didn’t play well.”
Carlos is a long way from home as he worked his way up through the junior golf ranks. He’s been mentored by Philippine golf legend Carito Villaroman, and he’s determined to raise the profile of golf in the Philippines.
“In the Philippines, golf’s really growing, but it’s basically either school or golf, while here in America I can do both,” Carlos said. “While playing junior golf in the Philippines, basically every summer I would come here to California just to get my name out, and try to get known.”
For McElyea, he knew by the age of 12 that he wanted to pursue golf full time, while giving up baseball. The Santa Cruz native who transferred from the University of Washington after his sophomore season, feels right at home at USF.
“I’ve known the coaches [at USF] for a while and it was a comfort thing. Washington just wasn’t quite the right environment for me, and I needed a change,” McElyea said. “Being closer to home, being from Santa Cruz was the route for me to go.”
McElyea and Carlos will have a bit of home-course advantage in the sectional as they try to advance and play in a tournament that will host players they’ve grown up watching, something that is not lost on them.
“It’s going to be fun,” McElyea said. “We play at Lake Merced every week and it’ll be good to play there in a competitive [atmosphere].”