Former Mississippi State University golfer Alexandre Rocha will be playing the weekend in his first ever United States Open Championship.
Rocha struggled to a birdie-free 5-over-par 76 after three bogeys (No. 4, No. 14 and No. 18) and a double bogey of the par-3 second hole.
Rocha hit just 8 of 18 greens in regulations and 7 of 14 fairways after shooting a first-round 69 to put himself near the top of the leaderboard.
â€śIâ€™m sitting in front of you having shot under par on my very first major championship, and the U.S. Open at that,â€ť Rocha said Thursday evening. â€śNobody is ever going to take that away from me. No matter what happens for the rest of the week, this is something Iâ€™m going to take with me forever. It canâ€™t be changed. I can only enjoy, look back and draw from it. People donâ€™t write their life stories in a day. But all you can do is write a chapter at a time. And this is what I did today. I wrote one chapter. If I donâ€™t write anything the rest of the week, I forgive myself for that, because this round, nobody is going to take that away from me.â€ť
Rocha qualified for the U.S. Open through shooting 71-67 and grabbing the final spot at Sectional Qualifying at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., on June 6.
Rocha was an All-American selection at Mississippi State with such successful players like current No. 1 player in the world Luke Donald and Paul Casey. Rocha could not even speak English when he arrived on the Starkville campus.
Rocha stood tied for 44th when second-round play was suspended by darkness Friday, one shot under the cut line (+3), ahead of former U.S. Open champions like Retief Goosen, Geoff Ogilvy and Michael Campbell.
Rocha currently stands 14 shots behind 36-hole leader Rory McElroy (-11) after the 54-hole leader at the Masters from Northern Ireland backed up a first-round 6-under-par 65 with a 5-under 66. The 22-year-old became the first person ever to get to 13-under-par at a U.S. Open and has the largest 36-hole lead in tournament history.
In his rookie year on the PGA Tour, Rocha has made five cuts in 10 starts and earned $57,593 with his best finish being back-to-back 50th place finishes in Cancun and Puerto Rico in March.