Switching this year’s U.S. Open dates from June to September won’t be the only big change brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The USGA is canceling local and final qualifying, the infamously arduous process by which half the field makes it into the championship. Instead, the 120th U.S. Open contested Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot in New York will feature an all-exempt field.
“This is a decision that was exceptionally difficult. The openness of our championships is our DNA—10,000 people following their dream,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships. “It was not on the table at the beginning. We felt confident we could conduct qualifying for everything.”
The original schedule called for 108 local qualifying and 12 final qualifying tournaments, the latter conducted in eight states, Japan, England and Canada. “Rescheduling that into the fall just wasn’t possible,” according to Bodenhamer. “The biggest consideration has been the need to test players, caddies and essential workers inside the so-called bubble. We looked at every single scenario before we decided to cancel anything.”
Qualifying isn’t the only USGA event…