U.S. Women's Open alternate priority upsets anonymous person
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U.S. Women’s Open alternate priority upsets anonymous person

So, when the USGA hosts sectional qualifying for its championships -- be it the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open or whatever -- they rank the field at each of the qualifying sites against the others.

Based on the number of players in the field and a subjective ranking of strength, the governing body allocates a certain number of qualifying spots from that particular sectional. That number can change, even on the day of qualifying. That strength also determines the priority order from which alternates are selected to fill out the field.

It turns out, that process has upset an anonymous person. This person, with the email address NoWayUSGAin2013@gmail.com, sent an email this morning laying out a case for what they thought was an egregious, blatant injustice committed by the USGA.

Here's the email in full:

Hi Everyone,
Karen Parker at USGA Golf House Championship Administration said this morning that she does not know of it ever happening before for the Men's US Open, but that it is happening for the Women's US Open this year.

The USGA, once entries close, does an analysis of each qualifying site for the strength of field and number of entries to determine how many qualifying spots are given to each site. They also create a secret book listing the order of which 1st alternates from all sites get into the championship, if there are spots available after all of the exempt categories are accounted for.

What is it? The USGA has given two spots in the field to this week's Women's US Open to two 2nd Alternates BEFORE going through the 1st Alternates from all sites.

Both Karen Stupples from the Atlanta qualifier and Danah Bordner from the Baltimore qualifier are 2nd Alternates that are already in the field before 16 other 1st Alternates from other qualifiers.

This is completely unfair and is cheating 1st Alternates from playing in the Open, because the USGA, in its unfettered power (see belly/long putters), feels they can do whatever they want. The hell with the qualifying process that they already determined how many spots to give each site - the powerful almighty Mike Davis can do whatever he wants.

Who knows if this has ever happened before? Yes, Mr. Davis will say that "the qualifying sites where most of the "tour players" tried to qualify are stronger fields." But, the USGA already gave them more qualifying spots and who is to say that a 2nd Alternate at a tour qualifying site is better than a 1st Alternate at another - who might also be a tour player.

Big powerful Mike needs to be exposed for throwing the whole qualifying process, where scores determine qualifiers, out the back door. After already deciding before the qualifiers, the USGA is moving the goal posts (hole locations).

There is NO WAY that this has ever happened before for a Men's US Open - too many people would be paying close attention!

What is the solution for the 1st Alternates that got CHEATED by Big Mike? Do they expand this year's field or give them a special exemption into the 2014 Women's US Open???

Someone needs to hold Big Mike accountable for this cheating.

Thank you.
No Way USGA in 2013

To be frank, it reads like a chain email forwarded to you by your grandparents. And, just as you should do with any such email that even makes you think it's true, you should go to Google (or Snopes, either way).

A rudimentary Google search for "U.S. Open alternate priority" turned up an example from 2012 that pretty much dismisses the entire issue.

An article in Golfweek from last year explained precisely why Colt Knost, a second alternate from the Columbus qualifier, was third in the priority order, ahead of several first alternates.

All of which could be used to paint a bright picture for [first alternate] Hicks and even for Kyle Thompson, who was first alternate out of the Memphis sectional and has been designated as second on the re-allotment list. One also could survey the possible scenarios and sense some optimism for Colt Knost and collegiate standout Jordan Spieth, fresh off his singles win over Justin Thomas to help Texas win the NCAA team title.

Spieth was first alternate out of the Houston site, where he and fellow collegiate star Cory Whitsett were in a four-for-two playoff. They lost out to pros Alistair Presnell and Brian Rowell, but Spieth secured first-alternate honors over Whitsett.

The interesting name, however, is Knost, only because he is a second alternate getting the nod over first alternates. Curious? Maybe, but not when you analyze it and understand an important aspect to this: “It’s the site, not the player,” Jeff Hall said.

The managing director of rules and competition at the USGA, Hall oversees the re-allotment process and doesn’t deny the obvious. “It’s a subjective exercise, no doubt. When you’re looking at the quality of a field, that’s subjective. But we take it very seriously because (the re-allotment process) is an important element of the championship.”

Hall explained what sits at the heart of the re-allotment process: “You ask yourself, ‘If we knew we’d have that many available spots, where would we have allocated more spots?' ”

The answer to Hall and and his colleagues was first, Columbus, which had 16, then Memphis, which had nine.

In essence, what they are saying is, Columbus should have 18, Memphis 10. And to those who would disagree, well, that’s when it becomes a truly subjective task. But give Hall and his peers credit; they waited until all the sectionals were played, went over the final numbers, how many entered and where the strength was sitting based on world-ranking status, and judged accordingly.

Well, there you have it:

  • Yes, this has happened before
  • Yes, this happened in the U.S. Open
  • Yes, it's perfectly fine for the USGA to do this
  • Mike Davis isn't personally responsible for the order

And the USGA would be conceivably screwing over second alternates from 18 other sites, not 16. There were 20 sectional qualifying tournaments.

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

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