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USGA to end Publinx, create four-ball events

United States Golf Association
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Beginning in 2015, there will be a bit more room in the Crow’s Nest.

In an unprecedented two-part announcement Monday, the U.S. Golf Association announced that the men’s and women’s U.S. Amateur Public Links will no longer be conducted after next year, while also introducing two new national championships: the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which will begin in 2015.

The Four-Ball Championships will be two-person team competitions played annually between mid-March and late May – in other words, not during the college season, which was one of the main reasons for the demise of the Publinx (click for player reaction). Each male competitor must have a USGA handicap index of 5.4 or lower, while women need indexes of 14.4 of lower. There is no age requirement for eligibility, and the partners need not be from the same club, state or country.

The fields for the men’s and women’s events will consist of 128 and 64 teams, respectively, with 32 teams advancing to match play after 36 holes of stroke play. 

“To bring that popular event to a national championship context seemed like a perfect fit,” said USGA vice president and championship committee chairman Thomas J. O’Toole.

The men’s Publinx was the USGA’s fourth-oldest championship, dating to 1922. (The WAPL began in 1977.) The elimination of the event, however, means that after next year there will be one fewer Masters invitation. It is the first time the USGA has retired an event. (Click for Publinx timeline)

In a release, the USGA said that following an internal review, it was determined that the Publinx events “no longer serve their original mission because of the widespread accessibility public-course golfers today enjoy in USGA championships.”

Former winners of the event include Tim Clark (1997), Trevor Immelman (’98), Michelle Wie (2003), Brandt Snedeker (2003) and Ryan Moore, who triumphed in both 2002 and ’04. 

This year’s men’s event will be held at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Va., on July 15-20.