Here are the 23 different ways to qualify for a US Open exemption (before final qualifying)
CMC U.S. Open

Here are the 23 different ways to qualify for a US Open exemption (before final qualifying)

A picture of golfer Rory McIlroy
FOLLOW: iHEART | TUNEIN


Getting an invitation to the US Open is quite an accomplishment. It means you've done something special in men's golf, garnering an opportunity to play in the national championship in the United States.

While the US Open is a major tournament, the USGA determines who gets invited at their sole discretion, there are 23 different ways a golfer can earn an invitation to the US Open. (And then there's final qualifying, which determines approximately one-third of the field.)

The best way to earn a US Open invitation is to win the US Open. US Open tournament winners earn a 10-year exemption into the event -- which is the shortest exemption of the four men's majors. All three others offer what are effectively a lifetime exemption to the winner.

The next best way to earn a US Open invitation is to win one of the other three major championships. Winners of a major championship get invited to the other three majors for five years after winning, meaning a guaranteed 20 consecutive major starts after taking a major title. While not on the level of a major, The Players Championship is a huge tournament, and winners of the PGA Tour's crown jewel get a three-year exemption across the majors.

After those three ways, all the other paths to a US Open invitation come with one-time invites that have to be earned back the next year. The qualification criteria range from winning or getting to the final of a prestigious amateur event, to winning on the PGA Tour multiple times, to reaching the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking by certain cutoff dates.

Then, the US Open could always simply choose to invite who they would like, which they do from time to time. There are currently no exemptions specific to LIV Golf players.

If a player satisfies multiple criteria to earn a US Open invitation, they don't get multiple years' worth of invitations, just an invite under the criteria with the greatest weight and longest counting period.

The 15 different ways to qualify for a US Open invitation

  1. Former winners of the US Open in the last 10 years
  2. The top 10 finishers (including ties) from last year's US Open tournament
  3. Winner of the last US Senior Open
  4. Winner of the last US Amateur
  5. Winner of the last US Junior Amateur, US Mid-Amateur and the last US Amateur runner-up
  6. Winners of the PGA Chapionship in the last five years
  7. Winners of the British Open in the last five years
  8. Winners of the Masters in the last five years
  9. Winners of the Players Championship in the last three years
  10. Winner of the last BMW PGA Championship
  11. All eligible qualifiers for the 2023 Tour Championship
  12. Winners of multiple PGA Tour events since the last US Open
  13. The top five players in the FedEx Cup standings, not otherwise exempt, through the May 20 standings
  14. The top player on the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour points list
  15. The top two players on the 2023 DP World Tour Race to Dubai points list, not otherwise exempt, through the May 20 standings
  16. The top player on the 2024 DP World Tour Race to Dubai points list, not otherwise exempt, through the May 20 standings
  17. The winner of the 2023 Amateur Championship
  18. The winer of the 2023 Mark McCormack Medal
  19. The 2024 NCAA Men's Division I individual champion
  20. The winner of the 2024 Latin America Amateur Championship
  21. The leading 60 players in the Official World Golf Ranking as of May 20
  22. The leading 60 players in the Official World Golf Ranking as of June 10
  23. Special exemptions from the USGA

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

Ryan talks about golf on various social platforms:

X or Twitter: https://twitter.com/ryanballengee
Facebook: https://facebook.com/ryanballengeegolf
Instagram: https://instagram.com/ryanballengee
YouTube: https://youtube.com/@ryanballengeegolf

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.