Jesse Smith '03

Jesse Smith ’03 lettered four years for the Colgate golf team. (Photo courtesy of USGA)

Colgate’s connection to this year’s U.S. Open makes his major championship debut Thursday afternoon.

Jesse Smith ’03 tied for medalist honors last week at Century Country Club & Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., earning automatic qualification into his first U.S. Open. That event begins Thursday at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia.

Smith, 33, begins his Thursday round at 2:42 p.m. as the elder statesman in his group. Joining the Barrington, N.H., native are a pair of fellow American golfers — 30-year-old Brandon Brown and 19-year-old Grayson Murray. Like Smith, those two also earned their tickets via qualifying.

The group tees off Friday at 9:12 a.m. (Follow the action here.)

Smith shot 70-67–137 to grab one of four spots available at his qualifying site. He opened with a 1-under-par 70 at Century, posting back-to-back birdies on holes 7 and 8 to offset his lone morning bogey at the par-3 17th. In the afternoon round at Old Oaks, Smith had three bogeys but overcame those with four birdies and a sparkling eagle-2 at the par-4 11th hole.

After his qualification, Golfweek magazine ran this excellent piece on Smith about how he came to play at Colgate for head coach Braden Houston and how he made it through his qualifying round.

Earlier this season, Smith joined a select group when he fired an opening-round 59 at an Orlando professional tournament. He posted his 11-under-par score March 20 at Dubsdread Golf Course during the opening day of a 36-hole Fore the Players Tour event. The 33-year-old former Colgate Raider had five birdies on the front nine that day and six on the back. Smith then cracked his driver on the opening shot of Round 2 and played the rest of that day without it, shooting 74 to finish second by one stroke.

Smith lettered four years for the Raiders, from 2000-03. He twice made All-Patriot League as a top-10 finisher at the conference championship tournament, tying for ninth in 2000 and placing fourth in 2002. In addition, Smith was chosen as Colgate’s most improved player in 2001 and most valuable player for the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

See a few examples of how Raider Nation is following Smith via Twitter: