The 2020 US Open field will consist only of exempt players and no qualifiers.
For the first time since 1925, the USGA will have a US Open with local and sectional qualifiers, as the governing body has decided to move forward with the national championship in September with an all-exempt field. The organization is still deciding on the exempt categories, which will now get the field to 144 players, down from the typical 156 in the year’s second men’s major.
A sectional qualifier has not won the US Open since Lucas Glover took the title at Bethpage Black in 2009. Before him, Michael Campbell emerged as a winner from sectional qualifying in 2005 at Pinehurst No. 2.
No local qualifier has won the US Open since Orville Moody in 1969.
The US Women’s Amateur, scheduled for Aug. 3-9 at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., and the US Amateur, scheduled for Aug. 10-16 at Bandon (Ore.) Dunes Golf Resort, will be played as scheduled, provided CDC recommendations and local regulations allow it. Along with the US Open in September and the US Women’s Open in December, all four of the USGA’s biggest events will be played without qualifiers. Exemption criteria for all four events will be announced in due course.
Typically, nearly 10,000 players sign up for US Open qualifying alone, with the hope of snagging one of some 70 spots made available through qualifying. Thousands more sign up to attempt qualifying for the other three championships, with hundreds of qualifiers conducted for the four championships. However, the logistics of running nationwide qualifiers with staff, given the difficulties of conducting events, travel and more, made it impossible.
“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.”
It seems reasonable to assume the USGA can draw upon the Official World Golf Ranking for most of the exemptions, particularly to draw international players. The World Amateur Golf Ranking could be used to draw top amateur players into the field. Perhaps exemptions will be created for PGA Tour winners in the coming months or the top players in the FedEx Cup at a certain cutoff date.
It’s unclear if any fans will be allowed to attend the US Open, but the USGA is planning for approximately 5 percent of the normal volume of people at Winged Foot in September. Attendance isn’t much of a concern for the amateur championships, and guidance around the US Women’s Open will be forthcoming.
The USGA also announced the cancellation of the US Women’s Mid-Amateur (Aug. 29-Sept. 3), US Senior Amateur (Aug. 29-Sept. 3), US Mid-Amateur (Sept. 12-17) and US Senior Women’s Amateur (Sept. 12-17). In total, 10 USGA championships scheduled for 2020 have been cancelled.