A record number of hopeless dreamers will attempt to qualify for the 2014 U.S. Open held at Pinehurst in seven weeks. The USGA announced on Thursday that 10,127 entrants will go through qualifying, blowing past last year's record number of 9,860.
That's a very large number of people competing for what should be about 60 of the total 156 spots in the field. Last year, 57 players made it through both local qualifying and then sectional qualifying.
With such a large pool of people attempting to qualify, you might think that there are some weekend chops, completely out of their element, just screwing around. But just to be eligible, you have to maintain a 1.4 USGA handicap index, so even those who might be cutting a few corners with the scorecards they turn in (a reverse sandbagging just to become eligible) are going to be way above average. If you don't have a 1.4 index, there's one other way to be eligible: be a professional golfer. But I assume there's a lot of overlap in that group. In addition to those eligibility requirements, you also have to have a little bit of cash for the entry fee. Last year, the fee was $150.
The local qualifying is where most of the whittling down and weeding out of the pretending masses occurs, and that will take place at 111 different venues throughout the first 20 days in May. That process should knock the number from 10k-plus to 1,000 or fewer, who will then compete at 12 sectional qualifying sites. There are two international sites holding sectionals on May 26, and then the 10 U.S. sites will hold their sectionals on what's now aggressively marketed and televised as "golf's longest day" on June 2. Here are the sectional sites for this year, with the typical weight probably playing in Ohio again because it's the Monday after the Memorial.
International sites for May 26
- Japan -- Nara International Golf Club -- Aichi Prefecture
- England -- Walton Heath Golf Club (Old and New Courses) -- Surrey
U.S. sites for June 2
- Lake Merced Golf Club/Olympic Club (Ocean Club) -- Daly City, Calif.
- Quail Valley Golf Club -- Vero Beach, Fla.
- Ansley Golf Club (Settindown Creek Club) -- Roswell, Ga.
- Woodmont Country Club -- Rockville, Md.
- Old Oaks C.C./Century Country Club -- Purchase, N.Y.
- Brookside Golf & Country Club / Scioto Country Club -- Columbus, Ohio
- Springfield Country Club -- Springfield, Ohio
- Emerald Valley Golf Course -- Creswell, Oregon
- Colonial Country Club -- Memphis, Tenn.
- Lakeside Country Club -- Houston, Texas
The USGA release stated that 580 entries came in on the last day, April 23, and that 15-year-old Travis Wells snuck his application in just 26 seconds before the deadline.
While about 60 players will get into the field via the qualifying that makes this a true "open," a majority of the 156-man field will be the typical pros who lock up exemptions well before that. Much like the Masters, there are several ways to earn exemption into America's national championship (breakdown from last year here). There are already 51 players fully exempt, mostly due to their performance in the U.S. Open, other majors, and by earning a spot in the final 30 at last year's TOUR Championship, the FedExCup finale in Atlanta. Here are those 51 players, with one rather notable question mark (or "doubtful") down toward the bottom of the list:
|Players fully exempt into 2014 U.S. Open (as of April 25)|
|Brendon de Jonge|
|Matthew Fitzpatrick (amateur)|
|Oliver Goss (amateur)|