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U.S. Open exemption categories revealed; 84 players currently in

We now know what an all-exempt U.S. Open field will look like.

The USGA on Thursday announced the exemption criteria for its 144-player field, which is set to compete Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot’s West Course in Mamaroneck, New York. The news comes just more than a month since the USGA canceled all qualifying for its premier men’s championship because of the coronavirus pandemic.

While much of the championship’s exemptions were kept intact, the organization did add several new categories, ranging from high finishers in upcoming PGA Tour events to Korn Ferry Tour points leaders to top-ranked amateur players.

“We looked at every possible scenario to have qualifying, it’s in our DNA, it’s our cornerstone to USGA championships, and we take great pride in that. We view our championships as the ultimate meritocracies in golf where you earn your way in,” John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships, told “Obviously, we couldn’t do it this year, so what was our starting point? It was to create representative fields as best we could. ... Looking back at the data of the last several years of what U.S. Open fields have typically looked like, we tried to create exemption pathways so that when we get to the first tee of that first round, fans, media and players will look at the field and say, ‘They didn’t have qualifying but they got pretty close to what a U.S. Open would normally look like.’”

So far, 84 players are qualified, including Phil Mickelson, who benefitted from a decision to expand the Official World Golf Ranking cutoff from top 60 to top 70. Mickelson was ranked No. 61 on the selected cutoff date of March 15.

The USGA will also exempt the top two finishers, not otherwise exempt, in non-major PGA Tour events beginning with the Memorial Tournament and ending with the Wyndham Championship. The top three finishers will be taken from the PGA Championship on Aug. 6-9 at TPC Harding Park. Across the pond, the top five in aggregate points from the European Tour’s five-event U.K. swing will also receive spots.

Other new categories include the top five players in both Korn Ferry Tour regular-season and Finals points, top seven ranked players, not otherwise exempt, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking after the U.S. Amateur, and Order of Merit leaders on several international tours.

“We’re excited because we thought a little creatively about not just going straight down the rankings but adding some of these play-your-way-in opportunities,” Bodenhamer said. “This isn’t perfect, it doesn’t replace qualifying, it will be a one-off this year in what will be a very unique year.”

The OWGR as of Aug. 23 will be used not only to fill out the field but also to determine the alternate list. Entries will open July 15 and close Aug. 26.

The USGA, which last week announced exemption info for its amateur championships, plans to release exemption details for the U.S. Women’s Open next week.

The following is a full list of exemption categories for the 2020 U.S. Open:

(Note: exempt players are listed only in the first category in which they qualify)

Past 10 winners of the U.S. Open (2010-19):
Gary Woodland (2019)
Brooks Koepka (2018)
Dustin Johnson (2016)
Jordan Spieth (2015)
Martin Kaymer (2014)
Justin Rose (2013)
Webb Simpson (2012)
Rory McIlroy (2011)
Graeme McDowell (2010)

Top 10 and ties from 2019 U.S. Open:
Xander Schauffele
Jon Rahm
Chez Reavie
Adam Scott
Louis Oosthuizen
Henrik Stenson
Chesson Hadley

Winner of the 2019 U.S. Senior Open:
Steve Stricker

Winner of the 2019 U.S. Amateur:
a-Andy Ogletree

Winners of the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur, and the 2019 U.S. Amateur runner-up:
a-Preston Summerhays (U.S. Junior)
a-Lukas Michel (U.S. Mid-Amateur)
a-John Augenstein (U.S. Amateur runner-up)

Past four winners of the Masters Tournament (2016-2019):
Tiger Woods (2019)
Patrick Reed (2018)
Sergio Garcia (2017)
Danny Willett (2016)

Past six winners of the PGA Championship (2015-2020):
Justin Thomas (2017)
Jimmy Walker (2016)
Jason Day (2015)

Past five winners of The Open Championship (2015-19):
Shane Lowry (2019)
Francesco Molinari (2018)
Zach Johnson (2015)

Those players qualifying for the 2019 Tour Championship:
Paul Casey
Tony Finau
Kevin Kisner
Hideki Matsuyama
Bryson DeChambeau
Jason Kokrak
Tommy Fleetwood
Matt Kuchar
Sungjae Im
Rickie Fowler
Abraham Ancer
Patrick Cantlay
Marc Leishman
Brandt Snedeker
Corey Conners
Charles Howell III
Lucas Glover

Multiple winners of non-opposite-field PGA Tour events since the 2019 U.S. Open:

Winner of the 2019 British Amateur:
a-James Sugrue

Winner of the 2019 Mark H. McCormack Medal:
a-Cole Hammer

Top 70 in Official World Golf Ranking as of March 15:
Tyrrell Hatton (21)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (25)
Bernd Wiesberger (26)
Kevin Na (30)
Lee Westwood (31)
Billy Horschel (34)
Cameron Smith (35)
Jazz Janewattananond (39)
Victor Perez (40)
Shugo Imahira (41)
Erik van Rooyen (42)
Matt Wallace (43)
Collin Morikawa (44)
Scottie Scheffler (45)
Rafa Cabrera Bello (46)
Christian Bezuidenhout (47)
Byeong-Hun An (50)
Sunghoon Kang (52)
Bubba Watson (53)
Brendon Todd (54)
Adam Hadwin (55)
Viktor Hovland (57)
Ian Poulter (58)
Tom Lewis (59)
Shaun Norris (60)
Phil Mickelson (61)
Andrew Putnam (62)
Keegan Bradley (62)
Lucas Herbert (64)
Eddie Pepperell (65)
Robert MacIntyre (67)
Kurt Kitayama (68)
Chan Kim (69)
Joel Dahmen (70)

Remaining exemption categories

  • Top two players, not otherwise exempt, in the top 10 and ties of the 2020 Memorial, 3M Championship, WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Barracuda Championship and Wyndham Championship, and the top three players, not otherwise exempt, in the top 10 and ties of the 2020 PGA Championship.
  • Top five players, not otherwise exempt, from the final 2019-20 FedExCup points list.
  • Top 10 aggregate point earners from the European Tour’s five-event U.K. swing, from the Betfred British Masters through the Wales Open.
  • Top five players, not otherwise exempt, in Korn Ferry Tour points through the WinCo Foods Portland Open.
  • Top five players, not otherwise exempt, in Korn Ferry Tour Finals points through the KFT Championship.
  • Top two finishers, not otherwise exempt, in the Japan Tour Order of Merit as of July 15.
  • Order of Merit winners from the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and PGA Tour Australasia as of July 15.
  • Top three finishers in the 2020 PGA Professional Championship.
  • Top seven ranked players, not otherwise exempt, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking as of Aug. 19, following the U.S. Amateur.
  • Special exemptions.