PGA TOUR, Korn Ferry Tour players can ‘play their way in’ to U.S. Open
Mickelson now qualified for Winged Foot after USGA adjusts criteria
June 25, 2020
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- The clubhouse at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Trending PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour players will be able to play their way into the field at the 120th U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Sept. 17-20, the United States Golf Association announced Thursday.
Not only will top-five finishers in the FedExCup earn spots for Winged Foot, so, too, will the top finishers at select TOUR events this summer. There will be 10 spots for Korn Ferry Tour members, too. Oh, and Phil Mickelson, whose tie for second at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot was perhaps the most agonizing moment of his career, will also be there.
The coronavirus pandemic led to the sweeping changes to this year’s qualification criteria. The USGA had previously announced the field will include 144 and not 156 players, for reasons of daylight, and will be made up of entirely exempt players – no more local and sectional qualifiers.
Mostly the USGA will use the Official World Golf Ranking – top 70 and ties as of March 15, when the rankings froze for the pandemic, instead of the usual top 60. At the time, perennial U.S. Open bridesmaid Mickelson was ranked 61st. He had previously said he didn’t want to be given a special exemption, but now he’s in with the rules change. Mickelson needs a U.S. Open win to complete the career slam.
“That worked out great, to be able to know that I have a chance to go back to Winged Foot and give it another shot,” Mickelson said Thursday after his 6-under 64 in the opening round at the Travelers Championship. “But I've had 30 U.S. Opens. I've had plenty of opportunities, and so if I don't qualify, I want somebody else who deserves a spot, too, to play. As long as I'm playing well enough to compete to earn my way into the field, then I want to play and keep trying to win that tournament.”
In addition to Mickelson, other PGA TOUR members now with U.S. Open invites who weren’t previously in the field include Andrew Putnam, Keegan Bradley and Joel Dahmen.
The USGA will also invite the hottest players on various tours, which will thicken the already substantial plot for PGA TOUR players. The top two players, not otherwise exempt, in the top 10 and ties of The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, 3M Open, World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Barracuda Championship and Wyndham Championship will earn spots in the field at the U.S. Open.
The top three not otherwise exempt in the top 10 and ties of the 2020 PGA Championship will make it to Mamaroneck, New York. And in another twist, so will the top five on the Korn Ferry Tour regular season points list, plus the top five in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our top players to showcase the level of talent that exists week in and week out on the Korn Ferry Tour,” said Korn Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin. “We are excited to know that 10 of our up-and-coming stars will compete in the U.S. Open.”
John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships, said, “The exemption categories for this year’s championship at Winged Foot Golf Club were carefully developed to mirror a representative U.S. Open field, and we are excited that players will still have an opportunity to earn a place in the field through a variety of categories.”
The 2019 Order of Merit for the Japan Golf Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and Australasia Tour will help to round out the field of 144 players, as will the World Amateur Golf Ranking, from which the top seven point leaders who are not otherwise exempt as of Aug. 19 will be added to the six amateurs who are currently exempt.
Exemptions for finishes in recent USGA championships, including the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur, U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Senior Open, will remain unchanged, as will exemptions for winners of THE PLAYERS Championship, Masters, Open Championship, PGA Championship, T and BMW PGA Championship.
Remaining spots in the championship will be filled using the OWGR, as of Aug. 23.
Winged Foot Golf Club is hosting its sixth U.S. Open and 13th USGA championship. The course was the site of Geoff Ogilvy’s tense one-stroke victory over Jim Furyk, Colin Montgomerie and Mickelson in 2006. Mickelson double-bogeyed the 72nd hole to lose.
Mickelson, who ranks 188th in driving accuracy this season, said, “A U.S. Open is going to be more difficult for me now than it probably was because I drive it the way I drive it, and so that week in 2006 my short game was the best it's been in my career, and I got up-and-down from everywhere. I know that I'll have to do the same and hopefully drive it better.”
Besides Ogilvy, other U.S. Open champions at Winged Foot include: Bobby Jones (1929), Billy Casper (1959), Hale Irwin (1974) and Fuzzy Zoeller (1984).