- Farrell Evans, Golf
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David Gossett doesn't expect to make the field of a regular PGA Tour event in 2014 unless he can Monday qualify or receive sponsor's exemptions. The 1999 U.S. Amateur champion has not had full status on the tour since 2004, three years after he took his only victory there at the John Deere Classic.
In recent years, he has split his time between the Texas-based Adams Tour, the Web.com Tour and PGA Tour qualifiers. Last year on the Web.com Tour, the 35-year-old Memphis native made just three cuts in 11 events.
This résumé of poor golf follows him everywhere he goes. Yet none of it matters in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier -- the most egalitarian golf event in the world, where anybody with a USGA handicap not exceeding 1.4 can play -- luring everyone from high school kids to club champions to seasoned tour pros with U.S. Open wins.
On June 2 at the Colonial Country Club in Memphis, the field where Gossett teed it up included three major champions and more than a dozen other PGA Tour winners with current status on the big tour.
With rounds of 66-69, Gossett, who now lives in Austin, Texas, easily earned one of the 13 spots for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
"Getting into the Open at Pinehurst is definitely a step in the right direction," Gossett said. "I feel like I have been gradually improving and turning things around over the last three or four years.
"I'm still sticking with the dream and I feel good about my game. It's definitely been a unique detour these last 10 years."
What happened to this former two-time All-American at Texas who decimated Sung Yoon Kim 9 and 8 to win the 1999 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach?
"I got sidetracked trying to improve with the proverbial, 'paralysis by analysis,'" Gossett said. "As soon as I lost mechanics, I lost confidence in what I was doing and changed up my formula and it wasn't a good decision for me professionally."
Gossett says he has had several low points over the years. In 2004, he missed 23 of 25 cuts in a year where in back-to-back events he failed to break 80.
"I had those conversations about quitting but I never found any viable options," he said. "I was fortunate to have the desire and passion to continue playing, even though I was struggling."
In 2009, Gossett got married and now has three children under the age of 3.
"Seeing the bigger picture of family has certainly helped through my struggles with my game," he said. "My faith and my family have been a stabilizing force in my life. I have a lot to be thankful for.
"I have been in the desert for a while, but I have kept my head up and I have worked hard to make improvements."
In 2010, Gossett began working with Chuck Cook, who also teaches Jason Dufner, among other tour players. With Cook, Gossett focused on lowering his ball flight and hitting the ball with less curve.
They looked at the tour averages for spin rate, launch angle, smash factor and club head speed from pitching wedge to driver over a four-year span. Gossett's goal is to get near those tour averages with all of his clubs.
"The mechanics aren't the issue now," Gossett said. "It is trusting that those mechanics are in there and seeing shots and letting it go.
"At the end of the day, you have to go with what you got. And find a way to score."
Gossett has been inspired by stories of players not quitting, despite their hardships to simply make cuts. Before the sectional qualifier in Memphis, he got a chance to play a few holes with David Duval, a former world No.1, who would fail to make it to Pinehurst.
"Seeing David Duval out there swinging away at it after what he's been through is very encouraging," Gossett said.
Pinehurst will mark Gossett's first U.S. Open as a professional. At Pebble Beach in 2000, he missed the cut, but he got a chance to play with Jack Nicklaus, who was competing in his 44th and last U.S. Open.
Gossett hopes this is the beginning of a new phase in his career that once represented boundless potential when he had those two memorable weeks at Pebble Beach in 1999 and 2000.
"I have been playing well," he said. "I just haven't had a breakthrough yet. Making it to U.S. Open is a little breakthrough that I hope can lead to bigger things.
"But right now, it's one shot at a time, one hole at a time and one tournament at a time. All you can do is try hard on each and every shot, chase it and go hit it again."
Former U.S. Amateur champion David Gossett earned his way into the U.S. Open but will take nothing for granted when he tees it up at Pinehurst No. 2, writes ESPN.com's Farrell Evans.