The road to the U.S. Open began this week for thousands of players, with an 18-hole local qualifier in the Houston area on Monday and another in North Carolina on Wednesday.
A dozen or so players from LIV Golf already decided to pass by not entering.
That includes Louis Oosthuizen, a runner-up at Torrey Pines in 2021 and at Chambers Bay in 2015. By not filing a U.S. Open entry, his only other avenue to Los Angeles Country Club is to win the PGA Championship next month. He currently is not in the PGA field, and at No. 136 in the world, is not likely to get an invitation.
Others who chose not to enter and who are well outside the top 100 in the world are Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, Charles Howell III, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Charl Schwartzel.
Patrick Reed also did not file an entry, though he could be safe. The U.S. Open exempts anyone from the top 60 in the world ranking on May 22, the Monday after the PGA Championship. Reed’s tie for fourth at the Masters has him at No. 44 this week, and it looks as though he will stay in the top 60.
The U.S. Open is June 15-18.
Talor Gooch is at No. 57 this week and did not file an entry. Without access to world ranking points, he would need a big finish in the PGA Championship to have a chance. That starts with getting into the PGA Championship, and special invitations have not been announced.
Kerry Haigh, the chief championships officer for the PGA, has said he “absolutely” would consider LIV Golf players in trying to put together the best field for Oak Hill on May 18-21.
Among the players from Saudi-funded LIV Golf who entered are Sergio Garcia, Matthew Wolff, Marc Leishman and Harold Varner III.
Garcia has signed up for the first 36-hole sectional qualifier in Dallas on May 22, the Monday before Colonial. The former Masters champion has played in every U.S. Open starting with Pebble Beach in 2000. The last time he had to go through qualifying was in 2011, when he advanced in a 7-for-4 playoff.
The R&A takes the top 50 from the May 22 ranking for the British Open. The deadline for entering is not until June 1.
The USGA accepted a record 10,187 entries, breaking the previous mark of 10,127 accepted in 2014 when the U.S. Open was held at Pinehurst No. 2.
The USGA said 52 players are exempt from qualifying — Ryan Fox and Tommy Fleetwood also are locked in but not yet announced — from the European tour points list last year. It would appear to be on target for its goal of having roughly half of the 156-man field come from 36-hole qualifying.
SPECIAL TEMPORARY MEMBERS
Ryan Gerard and Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark are the latest players to accept special temporary membership on the PGA Tour, and there’s never been a better time for that.
Gerard and Hojgaard — along with Akshay Bhatia, who reached that status a month ago — can take unlimited sponsor exemptions the remainder of the season. They can get full PGA Tour cards if their FedEx Cup points are equivalent to No. 125 at the end of the season. They typically would have only about three months remaining before the regular season ends.
But the tour is moving to a calendar season starting in 2024. That means that while temporary members are not eligible for the postseason (unless they win), they now will have as many as seven tournaments in the fall to keep playing. The top 125 in the FedEx Cup is not decided until November after the RSM Classic.
Gerard began his run as a Monday qualifier for the Honda Classic. He finished fourth, which got him into Puerto Rico, where he tied for 11th. Hojgaard received an exemption to the Dominican Republic event and was runner-up.
Linn Grant has emerged as Sweden’s best player, a four-time winner on the Ladies European Tour last year along with two runner-up finishes.
But she won’t be at The Chevron Championship this week in Houston to start the LPGA major season. And she has been replaced in the International Crown scheduled for Harding Park in San Francisco in two weeks.
Golfweek reported the 23-year-old Grant is not vaccinated against COVID-19, and the U.S. requires international visitors to be fully vaccinated.
Grant, who played at Arizona State, is No. 23 in the women’s world ranking.
The International Crown on May 4-7 features eight countries each with four players. She was to compete alongside Maja Stark (No. 27), Madelene Sagstrom (No. 28) and Anna Nordqvist (No. 34). Instead, Grant has been replaced by the next highest-rank Swede, Caroline Hedwall, at No. 119.
Grant hopes the U.S. policy will have eased in time for her to play the LPGA Match Play on May 24-28 at Shadow Creek north of Las Vegas.
The PGA Tour Champions has sanctioned a tournament that combines the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup into one competition during the silly season.
The World Champions Cup will be Dec. 7-10 at The Concession in Bradenton, Florida. It features six-man teams of PGA Tour Champions members competing for Team USA, Team Europe and Team International.
Jim Furyk (U.S.), Ernie Els (International) and Darren Clarke (Europe) will be captains. Each has been a captain in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.
The nine-hole matches will include formats and singles play, and points will be earned for each hole won in each of the 24 matches played over three days. Teams will determined by the top two from a points lists, two chairman’s picks and the other two spots based on the Charles Schwab Cup standings. Peter Jacobsen will be the event chairman.
The event is being run by Intersport and will be televised by ESPN and ABC. Competition days are Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with a pro-am set for Saturday.
It will be held the same weekend as the mixed team Grant Thornton Championship about two hours to the south in Naples.
CBS said Sunday coverage of the RBC Heritage averaged 4.15 million viewers, up 13% from last year. It was the most-watched final round at Hilton Head in 21 years. … Lee Smith is the new executive director of The Players Championship. He previously was the general manager at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey. Smith takes over for Jared Rice, who will lead business development for the PGA Tour’s championship management division. … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jon Rahm has had 28 rounds in the 60s at the majors dating to 2019, the most of any player. … Lexi Thompson will play a home tournament on the Ladies European Tour. She will be at the Saudi-backed Aramco Team Series event at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Florida, on May 19-21. … Pilar Golf Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina, will host the Women’s Amateur Latin America on Nov. 16-19. Pilar hosted the inaugural Latin America Amateur Championship in 2015. … Jordan Spieth now has 18 runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour over the last 10 years. No one else during that stretch has more than 14.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Scottie Scheffler has not finished worse than 12th since the CJ Cup in South Carolina in October, a span of 12 consecutive tournaments.
“I’m beyond addicted to this game.” — Jon Rahm.
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