THE qualifiers for the 2020 US Open on both sides of the Atlantic have been scrapped by the United States Golf Association (USGA).
Each year thousands of amateurs, club professionals as well as Tour stars from all over the world enter the USGA’s regional and sectional qualifiers.
They include the event held at Walton Heath GC, in Surrey, every June, in the build up to the US Open.
But the USGA has decided the challenge of staging even the 15 sectional qualifiers is too great while the world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 90,000 people in the USA.
As a result the 2020 US Open – which is set to be staged at New York’s Winged Foot GC, from September 17-20 – will not be a true Open, relying on bigger exemption categories.
John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s managing director of championships, said: “As you can imagine, this was an incredibly difficult decision, as qualifying is a cornerstone of USGA championships.
“We take great pride in the fact that many thousands typically enter to pursue their dream of qualifying for a USGA championship, and we deeply regret they will not have that opportunity this year.
“But this structure provides the best path forward for us to conduct these championships in 2020.”
The USGA has yet to decide if fans will be allowed to attend the US Open in September – the first four PGA Tour events, which get under way in June at Texas’ Colonial Club, will be behind closed doors.
The first PGA Tour event that MAY admit spectators is the John Deere Classic, in Illinois, in early July.
No decision on crowds at US Open
“We have not yet made a final determination regarding whether spectators will be able to attend the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot Golf Club,” a USGA spokesman said.
“Given the realities of the pandemic, we are recreating the entire championship experience for everyone involved.
“We appreciate and understand everyone’s questions and will provide more information as soon as possible.”
All the changes mean the USGA will now conduct just four championships in 2020 – all at their originally scheduled sites.
The 75th US Women’s Open will now be played at Houston’s Champions Golf Club ,in Texas, from December 10-13.
The 120th US Women’s Amateur, at Maryland’s Woodmont Country Club (August 3-9), and the 120th US Amateur, at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, in Orgegon (August 10-16), will be conducted as scheduled – provided that state and local government guidelines allow them to be played.
Testing and robust health and safety protocols – in line with America’s CDC regulations – will be in place at each of the four championships, the USGA stressed.
All four championships will be conducted without qualifying. That means the fields will be filled entirely through exemptions.
The USGA spokesman added: “Given continued health and safety concerns – as well as the potential burden on allied golf sssociations and the courses scheduled to host qualifying – conducting hundreds of qualifiers across the country for the US Women’s Amateur, US Amateur, US Open and US Women’s Open was not seen as a viable option.
USGA introduced US Open qualifiers in 1924
QUALIFIERS were introduced for the US Open in 1924, because of the surge in entries and interest following World War One.
In 1959, the USGA instituted the two-stage qualifying process. Ken Venturi (1964) and Orville Moody (1969) are the only two golfers to advance through both stages of qualifying and win the U.S. Open.
So far in 2020, 50 players had earned exemptions for the championship by May 18 when the USGA announced it was cancelling this year’s qualifiers.
The USGA will provide more information on the expanded exemption categories which will determine the field for Winged Foot, in the coming weeks.
Four more US amateur championships in 2020 have also been cancelled:–
• US Women’s Mid-Amateur – Berkeley Hall Club, South Carolina, Aug 29-Sept 3
• US Senior Amateur – Country Club of Detroit, Aug 29-Sept 3
• US Mid-Amateur – Kinloch Golf Club and Independence Golf Club, Virginia, Sept 12-17
• US Senior Women’s Amateur – The Lakewood Club, Alabama, Sept. 12-17.
On top of that list, the US Amateur Four-Ball, US Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, US Senior Open, US Senior Women’s Open were cancelled by the USGA in in March and April, while the US Girls’ Junior and US Junior Amateur were added to the list last month.
THE US Open is set to take place a week prior to the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
The PGA of America – which organises the biennial event along with the European Tour – have yet to decide whether fans will be admitted or not.
Many leading players from both Europe and the USA – including Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Brooks Kopeka and Jon Rahm – have said the match should be postponed rather than played without its unique atmosphere created by the large, partisan galleries.
•In 2005, Michael Campbell was the last person to come throught the qualifier at Walton Heath, and went on to be crowned US Open Champion at Pinehurst No. 2 as a 200-1 outsider.