For every one of the 156 players who will tee it up at the US Open at Shinnecock Hills in two weeks-time another 59 will have entered the event and not made it into the field.
Such is the appeal of the United States’ national open championship. For many American golfers especially, an appearance at the US Open is the holy grail of their golfing lives, most with little hope of achieving such.
When entries closed in early April 9049 hopefuls had signed up to perhaps be part of golfing history, for some just the chance to play would be more than enough while for others their aspirations are significantly higher.
Now bear in mind that those entering either need to be a professional golfer or have a USGA handicap of 1.4 or better, highlighting the standard required at the end of the filtering process just to tee it up.
Some 54 players are already exempt into the final field through a range of qualifying criteria while some were exempt from the Local Qualifying stage where the bulk of aspirants begin their journey at any one of more than 100 venues across the USA.
Those not in the field but exempt from Local Qualifying tackle what is known as Sectional Qualifying on June 4th when ten venues across the USA and one in Europe (one in Japan has already been played) filter out the final 100 or so remaining golfers to walk the fairways of the magnificent Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.
One look at those still hoping to get a start when Sectional Qualifying gets under way over 36 holes on Monday June 6th tells the story of the egalitarian nature of this event. No favours are given and none asked although there is one small category open to the USGA where discretion or ‘a special exemption’ is a consideration.
Retief Goosen is a two-time winner of the US Open but that counts for nothing now as he lines up in the hope of making the field for the 19th occasion. The last of his two wins interestingly came at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 on a controversial golf course layout, controversial because those setting up the course that year took it to its limits and beyond.
Goosen, though, is back to try and get another crack at a golf course that clearly means so much to him.
Geoff Ogilvy’s (above photo) ten year exemption for his 2006 victory at Winged foot has run out and he will be in the field in Memphis on Monday trying to play his way into an event that has to a large extent shaped his golfing career.
Adam Scott is the winner of 13 PGA Tour titles in addition to many others around the world including of course his major breakthrough at the 2013 Masters. The 37 year old Queenslander, though, will be required to fight for one of the remaining positions unless of course he can play very well this week at the Memorial and move inside the world top 60.
If there by June 11th Scott will make the field so either a good week this week at Muirfield Village, one last bid at next week’s FedEx St Jude Classic or success at the Sectional Qualifying in Ohio on Monday where he is currently entered will allow him to play his 17th consecutive US Open.
Other Australians who will line up at the various venues over 36 holes on Monday include Robert Allenby, Rod Pampling, Cameron Davis, Curtis Luck, Matt Jones, James Nitties, Aaron Baddeley and Greg Chalmers along with New Zealanders Danny Lee and Steve Alker will take their chances in what is essentially a 36 hole sprint on June 4th.
The qualifying process is uncompromising but then so too is the event itself.