The USGA has announced that the US Open, and three other major championships, will not have any qualifying this year which means that the field will be selected through the exemption process. “ … this structure provides the best path forward for us (USGA) to conduct these championships in 2020.”
This is an effort to restructure and resurrect a championship damaged by the catastrophic blow we have all experienced.
I applaud the USGA for trying to cope with the conundrum – do we, or do we not hold an “Open” event. The safety factor can be overcome with some major logistics problems, and the spectators may be have to be reduced in number, all of which will have an effect on the concomitant revenues – but this should not be, and I must believe is not, a factor in the decision to conduct the event anyway.
The question becomes is this really an “Open” championship or is this an Open in name only and really an invitational?
If the US Open is “open” the implication is that it is open to everybody who meets certain skill level criteria. It is not gender specific, but it does require a great deal of hope and optimism. In the US Open various exemptions from having to qualify are awarded. These exemptions are acceptable to most contestants who apply to play in the US Open, as it rewards and recognizes past performance.
These exemptions do, however, reduce the number of places available to the rest of the field – in some cases about 9,000 – who have aspired to play in one of the most prestigious events in golf. In many cases, living a dream in the hopes that they might win, while setting aside the realistic odds. But this is what the US Open is all about, a dream that one may prevail over enormous odds.
There are only 156 players who will eventually tee it up in the US Open, more than 50 of whom have not had to go through the qualifying stages, and only 60 plus ties making it to the third round. This means that 1.0% of those who enter and go through the qualifying rounds process, will tee it up for the first round and only about 0.5% will make it to the third round. These odds are not good but a lot better than winning the Power Ball lottery, which too survives on hope.
The bigger concern is that the lack of qualifying rounds takes the heart out of, and marginalizes the US Open for many of those who have had a lifetime dream torn away from them.
I do not criticize the USGA, which is part of my DNA, and in fact applaud their sincere efforts to conduct the championships which is a major part of the of the USGA’s mission but care very much for those who aspire to be a US Open champion and have worked so hard to get there only to have this dream taken from them.
Hope is one of the most important attributes we have, and that which defines our path to success and is part of what makes us who we are. Let us protect The US Open and the aspirations of those enter. For those selected to play, in this modified event we wish them well and will enjoy watching them compete.
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