The USGA is cancelling local and sectional qualifying for the 2020 US Open.
The governing body confirmed the decision overnight, and in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic it also cancelled four championship events.
Open qualifying is part of the bedrock of USGA events. Roughly 70 players earned entry into last year’s US Open at Pebble Beach through this route. The organisation even built its new marketing campaign around the slogan “From Many, One”. The original schedule called for 108 local qualifying and 12 sectional qualifying tournaments. Some of the past US Open champs who began in qualifiers include Steve Jones in 1996, Michael Campbell in 2005 and Lucas Glover in 2009.
“Throughout this process, our primary focus has been the safety and well-being of everyone involved, including our players, volunteers, host club representatives and staff,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships for the USGA. “We have not taken these decisions lightly and wish we had more options. But with a continued, keen interest in doing what is best for all involved, although we are extremely disappointed, this is the right decision.”
In lieu of the traditional spots conferred in sectional qualifying, the USGA instead will create exemption categories. Among these categories will be an amateur section. These exemptions are currently being finalised, per the USGA.
The US Open will also significantly minimise the amount of people on site at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York. How many fans, if any, that will be allowed to attend is still to be determined.
Additionally, the USGA cancelled the US Mid-Amateur and US Women’s Mid-Amateur and both its senior amateur championships.
Along with the ongoing threats COVID-19 presents, the USGA’s decisions were affected by its headquarters location in New Jersey. As one of the hardest hit American states during the pandemic, the organisation felt it could not manage all of its tournament line-up to a championship standard.
Aside from the US Open, the US Women’s Open will still be played in December. The US Amateur and US Women’s Amateur are keeping their original August dates and sites – Oregon’s Bandon Dunes Resort and Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, respectively. Both of these events will also now have all-exempt fields rather than use a qualifying process, which filled more than 75 percent of participants in most years.
The 2020 US Open is scheduled to begin on September 17. Gary Woodland is the defending champion.