Former Tide golfer makes pro debut at U.S. Open

Former Alabama golfer Bud Cauley begins his professional career on one of golf's biggest stages, the 2011 United States Open at Congressional Country Club outside Washington D.C., on Thursday.

"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to make my pro debut at the U.S. Open," Cauley said following a practice round at Congressional. "I grew up watching it on television and dreaming of having the opportunity to play in it. With the reality of that dream coming true this week, I am very anxious to get started."

Cauley, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., qualified for the U.S. Open by sharing medalist honors in the sectional qualifier at Tunic (Miss.) National Golf Club after carding rounds of 67 and 65.

"We are very excited for Bud to make his pro debut at the U.S. Open," Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. "The U.S. Open is a pretty special experience. We all will be pulling for him, and hoping his pro career gets off to a great start. Bud brought excellence both on and off the course to the Alabama golf program. He paved the way for great players to know that they can come here, get better and realize their dreams."

Congressional Country Club plays host to the 111th United States Open, which gets underway on Thursday, June 16 and concludes on Sunday, June 19. This year marks the fourth U.S. Open to be played at Congressional and the fifth major championship (1976 PGA Championship).

Cauley will be paired with Adam Long and amateur Michael Barbosa. The grouping is slated to tee off No. 10 at 8:01 a.m. (CT) on Thursday. It is Cauley's second event on the PGA Tour. He also participated in the 2010 Verizon Heritage as an amateur during his sophomore year at Alabama.

"The course is in great conditions," Cauley said. "Congressional Country Club is playing like what you would expect a U.S. Open course to play like: fast greens, tight fairways and difficult rough. It will be an unbelievable test of golf for me because it is only going to get more difficult as the week progresses."

Cauley finished his Alabama career as the school's first three-time first-team All-American and is the career leader in scoring average at 71.39. He was also a three-time first-team All-SEC selection, a three-time Ben Hogan Award semifinalist and a finalist in 2010. He played for the United States in the 2009 Walker Cup and won four-career tournaments with the Tide.

Cauley is the first Alabama player to qualify for the U.S. Open immediately following his Alabama playing career since Michael Thompson in 2008. Thompson was the runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Amateur, which qualified him for both the 2008 Masters and U.S. Open. Thompson was low amateur at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008.