Tuesday, June 3, 1997 | 11:32 a.m.
Gary Nicklaus used a late charge to make what is expected to be his father's final U.S. Open appearance a family affair.
Nicklaus closed with a birdie and two pars in a sectional qualifier at Orlando, Fla., on Monday to join four-time winner Jack Nicklaus in the June 12-15 tournament at Congressional in Bethesda, Md.
"It will be nice to play in the U.S. Open with my father, who I have a feeling will end his major streak at 150," Nicklaus said. "I'm not saying crazy things do not happen, but that's basically what he's talking about. It will be a lot of fun to play in his last U.S. Open."
Nicklaus, 28, whose father will be making his 41st consecutive U.S. Open appearance, had rounds of 71 and 69 on the par-72 Bay Hill Club course to grab one of the final two berths available in the section.
"It's a very big deal. I've never played in a U.S. Open and I've never played in a professional major," said Nicklaus, who set up what is believed to me the first father-son combination in U.S. Open history.
Craig Stadler, who withdrew from the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, after two rounds in a bid to qualify in Denver, was one of two alternates at Columbine Country Club after rounds of 67 and 71 for a 6-under 138 total, a stroke behind Brett Wayment and Rick Cramer.
Stadler, a 12-time PGA Tour winner who lives in Englewood, Colo., also narrowly missed earning an exemption last month through the tour's money list. He was 12th through the Colonial, with the top 10 gaining spots.
Dick Mast topped the qualifiers at Orlando with a 7-under 137 total.
"This means a lot," said Mast, 47, a longtime PGA Tour player who last played in the tournament in 1993. "I just need a boost in my career."
New Zealand's Grant Waite, the 1993 Kemper Open winner, was a stroke back, along with Mike Sposa and Rodney Butcher. Ed Humenik was fifth at 139, and Nicklaus and Kevin Altenhof followed at 140. PGA Tour player John Huston was one of three alternates at 142.
Dennis Trixler and amateur Jason Semelsberger had 4-under 140s to top five qualifiers at El Caballero in Tarzana, Calif., and Perry Parker had an 8-under 136 total to lead three qualifiers at Semi-Ah-Moo in Blaine, Wash.
In other sectional play, Ken Schall and Slade Adams qualified at Milburn in Kansas City, Mo., and amateur Bob Kearney and David Toms advanced from Thorntree in DeSoto, Texas.
The largest sectional tournaments were scheduled today, with 30 spots available at Woodmont in Rockville, Md., and 19 on the line at Brookside and Lakes in Columbus, Ohio. Qualifying also was scheduled Tuesday at Kirtland in Cleveland, East Lake in Atlanta, Bull Valley in Woodstock, Ill., and Knickerbocker and Montammy in Alpine, N.J.