Unable to fill the field at the U.S. Open in the traditional manner – through local and sectional qualifying for non-exempt players – the USGA has tried to do the next best thing.
It has created exemption criteria that come close to matching the cross-section of players who typically earn their way into the field.
In the same pandemic-stricken year the USGA announced its “From Many, One” campaign to celebrate the U.S. Open, the cancellation of qualifying events forced the format change for the championship that now is scheduled for Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot.
“The exemption categories for this year’s championship at Winged Foot Golf Club were carefully developed to mirror a representative U.S. Open field, and we are excited that players will still have an opportunity to earn a place in the field through a variety of categories,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships for the USGA.
In addition to the customary pathways to the field, the USGA also will exempt all players who were in the top 70 in the Official World Golf Ranking as of March 15 (which gives Phil Mickelson an exemption).
It also will provide a spot in the field for any players not previously exempt who finish in the top 10 in the Memorial, the 3M Open, the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the Barracuda Championship and the Wyndham Championship, as well as the PGA Championship, similar to the qualifying system used by the Open Championship.
Other exemptions will be granted to the top five finishers on the final FedEx Cup points list, the top five finishers in both the regular-season and finals portion of the Korn Ferry Tour, the top 10 finishers in aggregate points for the European Tour’s six-event U.K. swing and the top three in PGA Professional Championship. And there also will be exemptions based on the final order of finish on the Japan Golf Tour, the Sunshine Tour, the Asian Tour and the Australian Tour.
For amateurs, six have automatic exemptions into the U.S. Open and the USGA will exempt an additional seven based on the World Amateur Golf Ranking as of Aug. 19.
Ron Green Jr.