Closer look at qualifying for U.S. and British Opens

By Doug FergusonMay 27, 2015, 12:20 am

The names of golf's two oldest championships are similar, and so are the concepts.

The British Open and the U.S. Open are open to anyone who wants to qualify. The difference between them, other than the 35 years of history and the turf on which golf is played, was evident Monday when the final exemptions were awarded through the world ranking.

The U.S. Open took the top 60 in the world who were not already eligible, adding 24 players to the field at Chambers Bay in three weeks. That brought the number to 74 players who do not have to qualify, and it brought a smile to the face of the USGA.

For the ninth straight year, at least half of the 156-man field will have to qualify for the right to play in the U.S. Open. That includes seven players who earned over $2 million on the PGA Tour last season, and three players who already have cleared $2 million this year. It includes Thomas Bjorn, who was in the Ryder Cup last September.

It's not easy to get into the major known as the toughest test in golf.

It's not unreasonable, either.

U.S. Open champions are exempt for 10 years. The Masters and PGA Championship give their winners a lifetime pass. British Open champions can play until they're 60.

Winners of the other three majors get a five-year exemption to the U.S. Open, while The Players Championship winner gets three years. The top 10 and ties from the previous U.S. Open don't have to qualify, nor do the 30 players who make it the Tour Championship.

Everyone else - except for amateurs and the Senior U.S. Open champion - has to qualify if they're not among the top 60 in the world. There is one more cutoff for the top 60 the week of the U.S. Open, though no more than two players typically get through.

Monday also was the cutoff for the British Open.

It took the top 50 in the world who were not already eligible from a long list of criteria that recognizes the quality of golf being played around the world. That's how it should be. The proper name of golf's oldest event is ''The Open Championship.'' It is the most global of majors, which is why the winner of the claret jug is introduced on the 18th green as the champion golfer of the year.

But it's not as open as it used to be.

The Open has similar exemptions for major champions, and it recognizes its European roots by giving a three-year pass to the BMW PGA Championship winner and to the top 30 from the Race to Dubai.

It also takes the money winner from tours in Australia, Asia and South Africa, and the top two from the money list in Japan. The list goes on.

Five more PGA Tour players can get in through the FedEx Cup standings a week after the U.S. Open. Two more from the Japan Golf Tour can get in through a special money list. There's a spot for the Japan Open champion, and for everyone on the last Ryder Cup team (that covers Bjorn).

There's still room for qualifying - as many as 44 spots, or roughly 28 percent of the field.

All but 12 of those are in the ''Open Qualifying Series.'' Those are part of an existing event, such as the Irish Open this week or the Greenbrier Classic next month. The top three or four players, provided they finish no worse than 12th in the tournament, get into the British Open if they haven't already qualified.

R&A chief Peter Dawson said last year that it effectively is a 72-hole qualifier, which would seem to be a more rigorous test, just like 36 holes is a better measure than 18. Except that players don't set out to get into the Open. They're trying to win a tournament.

It's different when its 36 holes against a field of players with the same objective. That's where golf's oldest championship loses some of its romance.

That's what the U.S. Open gets right.

Joe Ogilvie is an interesting case study. He retired last year, but not before making it through U.S. Open qualifying three straight years. A year ago, he missed three straight cuts and then tied for third in the qualifier. In 2013, he missed eight cuts and finished no higher than 46th in two other events. And then he finished fourth in the qualifier. He had the same bad form and same good result in 2012.

Think he would have stood a chance in the British Open qualifying system?

''I treated qualifiers differently,'' Ogilvie said. ''There was no scoreboard watching. I played the golf course. I didn't try to win. I didn't try to shoot 62. Just keep the ball in front of me, take all the big numbers out and go from there. Admittedly, if I treated my career like that I would have gone better.''

Luke Donald is not eligible for the U.S. Open or British Open for the first time in a decade. Depending on how he fares at the Irish Open this week, he will play a 36-hole qualifier on June 8 against a field of players not eligible for the U.S. Open. His odds are probably better than the British qualifying system, especially considering it has been three months since he last finished better than 15th.

Getty Images

After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

Getty Images

Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

Getty Images

Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

Getty Images

Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry