Hull fails to qualify for Open

DETROIT -- Brett Hull is best known for his hard slap shots and ability to score goals in hockey.

But the 38-year-old Detroit Red Wings player says he loves another sport more. And so, he spent Monday afternoon trying to make 10-foot putts on the golf course.

Hull went from being a two-time Stanley Cup champion to one of 86 people in Austin, Texas, trying to make it through the local qualifying stage for the U.S. Open Championship in June.

Hull shot an 80, though. That wasn't good enough to make it to the sectional qualifier, the tournament that determines who makes it to golf's national championship.

It may be hard to believe that someone who has scored 716 career goals in the NHL, but Hull insists he likes golf more than hockey.

"I'd rather play golf than hockey,'' Hull told the Austin-American Statesman in Austin, Texas. "I just love the game.
I love the challenge. It's my favorite sport.''

Hull started out strong, shooting even par through three holes. Then he carded a quadruple bogey on the par-four, fourth hole.

The eight came after a ball landed in the water, a bad chip, and three putts.

"Until you have a short game, you're never going to be good,'' Hull said. "So that's what I've got to work on.''

Hull can only work on his game during the hockey offseason, but he left his playing partners impressed.

"He was out here, trying to get better, and that's the only way you can,'' said Jimmy Walker, one of Hull's two partners.

"He has a good golf swing,'' said the other, Mark Baldree. "He's fairly effortless ... and he's the best hockey player I've ever played with.''

"The Golden Brett,'' as Hull is known around the NHL, has refined that swing after 17 years in the NHL with the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Detroit.

Hull tried to qualify for the U.S. Open in the mid-1990s in Minneapolis. He said made a hole-in-one, but not in the sectional field.

People waiting for Hull to drop his hockey stick for a golf club, though, shouldn't expect that quite yet. After all, Hull says hockey has one distinct advantage over golf.

"The hole's bigger in hockey,'' he said.