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USGA reveals U.S. Women's Open exemption categories; 100 currently in

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The U.S. Women’s Open’s new exemption categories, designed to fit the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presents the 75th annual championship, were announced Wednesday by the USGA.

With qualifying eliminated this year, the event will feature an entirely all-exempt field when it is scheduled to be staged Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.

“After carefully examining previous years, these exemption categories allow us to closely mirror a traditional field,” USGA senior managing director John Bodenhamer said.

Plans to host 25 qualifiers, four of them internationally, were canceled amid the pandemic. The championship was also moved from its originally planned staging in June.

The USGA announced last year that it was eliminating money-list exemptions beginning this year and expanding its Rolex Women’s World Ranking exemptions to the top 75. It was also adding a category for top-30 finishers from the final Race to the CME Globe points list from the previous season.

U.S. Open exemptions revealed; 84 players in

Here is a look at the 84 players currently qualified as well as the rest of the exemption categories for the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

Because of the pandemic, some LPGA and international tour money-list exemptions have been added back to exemption categories, to make up for spots lost to qualifying. Also, to help make up for amateur spots that are typically gained in qualifying, the USGA will take the top 20 amateurs not already exempt from the World Amateur Golf Ranking as of Nov. 4.

The championship was originally scheduled for June 4-7 at Champions. Jeongeun Lee6 is the defending champion.

“We certainly didn’t take it lightly in eliminating qualifying, because it’s who we are,” said U.S. Women’s Open championship director Shannon Rouillard. “With that said, our guiding principle was to construct exemption categories that would closely resemble what a typical U.S. Women’s Open field looks like year over year.”

Under the exemption categories released today, 100 spots are already filled, with exemptions to be filled for another 45 spots as the season plays out. There’s also room for 11 more spots before the championship begins, many of them likely to be filled off the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

The new exemption categories include spots for the top two players not otherwise exempt from among the top-10 finishers at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship (Aug. 27-30), the Cambia Portland Classic (Sept. 17-20) and the ShopRite Classic (Oct. 1-4), and also the top three players not otherwise exempt from among the top-10 finishers at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (Oct. 8-11).

“We are really trying to reward those who perform well during the remaining 2020 LPGA season,” Rouillard said.

To ensure those in the best form leading up to the championship receive a spot, players who are not already exempt can earn an exemption from their position on LPGA tour’s 2020 official money list (top 10) or the Symetra Tour’s official money list (top 5) through Nov. 11.

In lieu of international qualifying, the final rankings on the 2019 LET Order of Merit and the final money lists on the 2019 Japan LPGA Tour, Korean LPGA Tour and China LPGA Tour will help to round out the field.

Players winning events after the LPGA’s summer restart that aren’t otherwise exempt will likely find themselves exempt via the expanded Rolex Women’s World Rankings exemption come Nov. 9. Any remaining openings in the field will also be filled via the Rolex rankings.

Here’s a complete list of the 2020 exemption categories:

EXEMPT CATEGORIES (players listed once, based on first qualifying category):

1 – Winners of the U.S. Women’s Open Championship the last 10 years (2010-2019):

  • Jeongeun Lee6
  • Ariya Jutanugarn
  • Sung Hyun Park
  • Brittany Lang
  • In Gee Chun
  • Michelle Wie
  • Inbee Park
  • Na Yeon Choi
  • So Yeon Ryu
  • Paula Creamer

2 – From the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open Championship, the 10 lowest scorers and anyone tying for 10th place:

  • Celine Boutier
  • Jaye Marie Green
  • Mamiko Higa
  • Jessica Korda
  • Yu Lui
  • Ally McDonald
  • Gerina Piller
  • Lexi Thompson
  • Angel Yin

3 – Winner of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship:

  • Gabriela Ruffels

4 – Winners of the 2019 U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships and the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship Runner-up (must be an amateur):

  • Lei Ye
  • Ina Kim-Shaad

5 – Winners of the ANA Inspiration Championship the last five years (2016-2020):

  • Jin Young Ko
  • Pernilla Lindberg
  • Lydia Ko
  • 2020 TBD

6 – Winners of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (five-year exemption) (2016-2019)

  • Hannah Green
  • Danielle Kang
  • Brooke Henderson

7 – Winners of the Evian Championship the last five years (2015-2019):

  • Angela Stanford
  • Anna Nordqvist

8 – Winners of the AIG Women’s British Open Championship the last five years (2015-2019):

  • Hinako Shibuno
  • Georgia Hall
  • In-Kyung Kim

9 – The top 30-point leaders from the 2019 LPGA Race to the CME Globe Final Points:

  • Brittany Altomare
  • Carlota Ciganda
  • Shanshan Feng
  • Nasa Hataoka
  • Mi Jung Hur
  • Eun-Hee Ji
  • Moriya Jutanugarn
  • Hyo Joo Kim
  • Sei Young Kim
  • Nelly Korda
  • Bronte Law
  • Minjee Lee
  • Gaby Lopez
  • Caroline Masson
  • Azahara Munoz
  • Su-Hyun Oh
  • Lizette Salas
  • Amy Yang

10 – Winners of LPGA co-sponsored events, whose victories are considered official, from the conclusion of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open Championship to the originally scheduled 2020 U.S. Women’s Open Championship (June 1-7):

  • Cheyenne Knight
  • Ha-Na Jang
  • Ai Suzuki
  • Madelene Sagstrom

11 – Winner of the 2019 The Women’s Amateur Championship staged by The R&A (must be an amateur):

  • Emily Toy

12 – Winner of the 2019 Mark H. McCormack Medal (Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking) (must be an amateur):

  • NONE

13 – From the 2020 official LPGA money list, the top 10 money leaders not otherwise exempt through the close of entries (November 11, 2020):

  • TBD

14 – From the 2020 official Symetra Tour money list, the top 5 money leaders through the close of entries (November 11, 2020):

  • TBD

15 – From Week 11 (March 16, 2020) of the Rolex Rankings, the top 75-point leaders and ties:

  • Hee Jeong Lim
  • Charley Hull
  • Jiyai Shin
  • Hye Jin Choi
  • Marina Alex
  • Da Yeon Lee
  • A-yean Cho
  • Seon Woo Bae
  • Megan Khang
  • Kristen Gillman
  • Min-young2 Lee
  • Mi-hyang Lee
  • Jennifer Kupcho
  • Amy Olson
  • Min Ji Park
  • So Mi Lee
  • Morgan Pressel
  • Sun Ju Ahn
  • Mone Inami
  • Nanna Koerstz Madsen
  • Yui Kawamoto
  • Momoko Ueda
  • Jeong Min Cho
  • So Young Lee
  • Annie Park
  • Minami Katsu
  • Nicole Broch Larsen
  • Austin Ernst
  • A Lim Kim
  • Mamiko Higa
  • Ji Yeong2 Kim
  • Chae Yoon Park
  • Chella Choi
  • Jing Yan

16 – Top five LET members from the final 2019 LET Order of Merit and the top five money leaders from the final 2019 Japan LPGA and Korea LPGA tours:

  • Esther Henseleit
  • Marianne Skarpnord
  • Christine Wolf
  • Nuria Iturrioz
  • Meghan MacLaren

17 – Top three money leaders from the 2019 China LPGA Tour:

  • Weiwei Zhang
  • Yan Liu
  • Mohan Du

18 - The top two players, not otherwise exempt, in the top 10 and ties of the 2020 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Cambria Portland Classic, ShopRite Classic, and top three players, not otherwise exempt, in the top 10 and ties of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship:

  • TBD

19 - From the November 4, 2020 Women's World Amateur Golf Ranking/WAGR, the top 20 ranked players within the top 100 in the ranking that apply to play and are not otherwise exempt as of November 4, 2020. (Must have filed an entry by November 11, 2020)

  • TBD

20 – Special exemptions as selected by the USGA.

  • Brittany Lincicome (Maternity Extension)
  • Sarah Jane Smith (Maternity Extension)

USGA NOTE: After all exemption categories are complete, remaining spots in the championship field will be filled in order using the Rolex Rankings as of November 9, 2020. Once the field is set, the USGA will compile an alternate list for the championship using the RR as of November 9, 2020.

Blank entries will be filed by the USGA for players who become exempt after close of entries. Players who become exempt after the close of entries will be contacted individually by the USGA and will be required to complete a championship application at that time.

For ties where two players have the same ranking in the RR, the spot(s) in the championship proper will be determined by the highest-ranking points earned from each players' current record of counting events (past 104 weeks). If a tie still exists, the spot(s) will be determined by the second highest points earned, the third highest, and so on until the tie is decided. If a tie still exists, the spot(s) will be determined by lot.