BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The path to the U.S. Women’s Open will be shorter next year for those trying to play their way into the championship.
The U.S. Golf Association announced Wednesday that it’s going back to single-stage qualifying for women.
“We believe this one-stage system will be more time and cost efficient for the players and officials running the qualifiers,” said Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition. “This will give players more flexibility when determining their schedule as they will have more options of dates and sites from which to choose.”
The USGA went to a two-stage qualifying system in 2002, an 18-hole local qualifier and 36-hole sectional qualifier. The USGA made the move the year after Morgan Pressel made it through the single-stage system as a 12-year-old. Initially, the move to two stages was commonly referred to as “The Morgan Pressel Rule” in the junior ranks. Davis cited other issues prompting the change back then, including the desire to grow the women’s game. He also cited a situation where Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez was uncomfortably paired with two unproven players whose struggles handicapped Lopez. The move to two stages eliminated lesser skilled players during local qualifying.
The new single-stage qualifying system will be tougher than the former single-stage system. Players will compete over 36 holes, compared to 18 holes in the former system.
Davis said single-stage qualifying will make it easier for the USGA to obtain qualifying sites. The change also will allow the USGA to spread the qualifying dates over a three-week period.
“In second stage for this championship, it was conducted on a certain date, and if you weren’t available that date, tough luck,” Davis said.