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Utahns Tony Finau and Daniel Summerhays will play in the U.S. Open after all

SALT LAKE CITY — There have only been a couple of times over the past 40 years when a golfer with Utah ties has not played in the U.S. Open golf tournament.

It looked like that might happen again this year when Utah natives Zac Blair, Daniel Summerhays and Tony Finau each missed qualifying at U.S. Open sectionals, the latter two by the slimmest of margins last week.

Both Summerhays and Finau lost in sudden-death playoffs in separate sectionals in Ohio and both ended up as first alternates.

However, it turns out both players will be in the tournament again this year when it is played at Oakmont Country Club this week. It wasn’t to be official until late Sunday, but both players were already on their way to Pennsylvania to practice Monday, confident they would be included in the field.

The U.S. Open reserves six spots for players who might earn their way into the Top 60 during the two weeks prior to the tournament. However, none of the seven players who had a chance to work their way into the top 60 made it over the weekend, allowing several alternates, including Summerhays and Finau, to each make the Open for the second consecutive year.

Last year, both golfers, who met in the finals of the Utah State Amateur a decade ago, played well as Finau finished in a tie for 14th and Summerhays tied for 27th.

HARDEST EVER?: Last month, defending U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth called Oakmont “the hardest course in America.” Last week, Phil Mickelson called it “the hardest course we’ve ever played.”

So we can expect mostly black numbers on the scoreboard this week and perhaps a winning score of at least 5-over par for the week, which was the winning score in 2007 when Angel Cabrera won at Oakmont. That was the second-highest winning score in the Open going back to 1963.

Remember, this is the same course where Johnny Miller shot a 63 back in 1973 to win the U.S. Open, a score that has still never been surpassed in a major.

EXTENDING THE SERIES?: Of course the big news this time of year, besides the U.S. Open, is the NBA playoffs, which, on the whole, haven’t been too exciting this year with a record number of blowout games. So far the average margin of victory in the Finals has been 22 points, and until the most recent game, all have been decided by midway through the fourth quarter or sooner.

Some have wondered if the NBA suspended Draymond Green for Monday’s game in an attempt to extend the series. But Green’s antics throughout the playoffs finally caught up to him with his latest “groin shot” Friday night, which gave him another flagrant foul point and an automatic suspension.

Maybe we’ll at least have a close game for a change.

U. AND Y. TOGETHER: The Utah Jazz are continuing their practice of bringing in college players three or four times a week during late May and June in an effort to find every player with even the smallest chance to play in the NBA. It’s been nice of the Jazz to bring in local players who have little chance of playing in the NBA anytime soon for workouts. Last week, BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer were invited along with Utah’s Brandon Taylor and Dakarai Tucker.

It was also interesting that rather than bringing in the two Utes together or the two Cougars together, they brought one of each in on separate days. It was also heartening to see how well the opposing players got along with only good things to say about their former rivals.

If only fans could behave the same way.

AMAZING UTES: Finally, another shout-out to the Utah baseball team, whose amazing season included a Pac-12 championship and a win in the NCAA Tournament. Some cynics have pooh-poohed the Utes’ accomplishment by saying the Pac-12 was having a down year. Perhaps there’s some truth in that. But notice which school punched the first ticket to next week’s eight-team World Series — the Pac-12’s Arizona Wildcats, who knocked off No. 4-ranked Mississippi State on the road in the Super Regionals.