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Former Otter golfer shines at U.S. Open

June 18, 2010** **

Erick Justesen, who played for CSU Monterey Bay's golf team in 2003, put his local knowledge to good use in Thursday's opening round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Justesen, who teed off in the last group, at 2:42 p.m., shot 35-39-74, five strokes behind the leaders. The former Otter was in good company, coming in with the same score as Tiger Woods and beating Phil Mickelson by a stroke.

While a member of CSUMB's golf team, he played Pebble about once a semester. He also spent two summers as a caddie there.

He graduated a two-time All-American at CSU Stanislaus in 2008, transferring from CSUMB after realizing that he wouldn't be eligible to play for the Division II national championship. At the time, CSUMB was in a probationary period after moving up to D-II.

"I wasn't aware at the time that I went to CSUMB that we weren't going to be eligible for nationals," Justesen told the Monterey Herald. "Every golfer wants to compete at the top of wherever they are."

He finished in the top 10 at the D-II national championship his junior year, then lost the title by one stroke during his senior year.

The Sacramento native is currently competing on the Canadian Tour and occasionally plays in a Nationwide Tour event.

To qualify for the Open, Justesen fired a 36-hole total of 9-under 133 (65-68) to earn one of four spots in a sectional qualifier held at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento. He started his qualifying odyssey at a regional qualifier at Bayonet Golf Course, where he took medalist honors with an even-par 72.

He teed off today at 9:12 a.m. from the first hole. He's playing with Jerry Smith and amateur Hudson Swafford.