On Thursday, the USGA announced five new pathways to its most prestigious championships, the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open.
Starting with the 2023 U.S. Open, four new exemption categories will be available:
- 2023 Latin America Amateur Champion (must be an amateur)
- 2023 NCAA Division I men’s individual champion (must be an amateur)
- 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season points leader (using points earned on KFT Regular Season and points earned in KFT Tour Finals)
- The top 5 players in 2022-23 FedExCup standings as of May 22, 2023, not otherwise exempt
The 2023 U.S. Open will be played in Los Angeles, Calif., at Los Angeles Country Club from June 15-18.
This summer, the U.S. Women’s Open will be played for the first time at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif., from July 6-9. The USGA announced one additional exemption category for that championship:
- The 2023 NCAA Division I women’s individual champion (must be an amateur)
The changes bring additional gravitas to the biggest collegiate golf event on the calendar, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships, which will be held in May at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. The women will play first, May 19-24, and then the men, May 26-31.
“The USGA is pleased to offer these exemptions for both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open,” said USGA Chief Championships Officer John Bodenhamer in a press release. “These categories provide another avenue for ensuring the presence of those players who are playing their best leading into both national championships.”
In addition to the new exemption categories, the U.S. Open field will also include the top two players from the final 2022 DP World Tour Rankings, who are not otherwise exempt, as of May 22, 2023, and the top player from the 2023 Race to Dubai rankings, who is not otherwise exempt, as of May 22, 2023.
Another change this year will see the top two players from the DP World Tour U.S. Open Qualifying Series earn exemptions. Those players will be aggregate point-earners from DP World Tour events played between May 4 and June 4 (the Italian Open, Soudal Open, KLM Open and Porsche European Open).
Players who earn exemptions via the PGA Tour or DP World Tour must be considered eligible by their respective Tours, which would seemingly exclude LIV players, some of whom are currently still competing in DP World Tour events, and any player who would have qualified based on play in 2022 but has since joined LIV Golf. But in the release the USGA made no reference to banning LIV players who qualify for exemptions under the other 2023 criteria, or who punch their Open tickets through local and sectional qualifying.
At the 2022 U.S. Open, USGA CEO Mike Whan, when was asked about the possibility of banning LIV players, said: “We definitely feel responsibility to this game, and we feel a responsibility to the competitors that play it. We did sit down and have a long conversation about a week before the U.S. Open, did where somebody else play and what promoter they played it with, disqualify them for this event? We decided no on that, with all the awareness that not everyone would agree with that decision.”
He added: “Could you envision a day where it would be harder for some folks doing different things to get into a U.S. Open? I could. Will that be true? I don’t know, but I can definitely foresee that day.”
The full list of the USGA’s U.S. Open exemption categories is below.
2023 U.S. Open exemption categories from local and final qualifying
F-1. Winners of the U.S. Open Championship the last 10 years (2013-22)
F-2. From the 2022 U.S. Open Championship, the 10 lowest scorers and anyone tying for 10th place
F-3. Winner of the 2022 U.S. Senior Open Championship
F-4. Winner of the 2022 U.S. Amateur Championship
F-5. Winners of the 2022 U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships, and the 2022 U.S. Amateur runner-up (must be an amateur)
F-6. Winners of the Masters Tournament (2019-2023)
F-7. Winners of the PGA Championship (2018-2023)
F-8. Winners of The Open Championship, conducted by The R&A (2018-2022)
F-9. Winners of The Players Championship (2021-2023)
F-10. Winner of the 2022 European Tour BMW PGA Championship
*F-11. Those players who qualified and were eligible for the season-ending 2022 Tour Championship
F-12. Multiple winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the FedExCup, from the conclusion of the 2022 U.S. Open (June 16-19) to the initiation of the 2023 U.S. Open
*F-13. The top five players in the 2022-23 FedExCup standings as of May 22, 2023, who are not otherwise exempt
*F-14. The points leader from the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season using combined points earned on the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List and points earned in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals
**F-15. The top two players from the final 2022 DP World Tour Rankings who are not otherwise exempt as of May 22, 2023
**F-16. The top player on the 2023 Race to Dubai Rankings as of May 22, 2023, who is not otherwise exempt
**F-17. The top two finishers from the 2023 DP World Tour U.S. Open Qualifying Series, who are not otherwise exempt
F-18. Winner of the 2022 Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A (must be an amateur)
F-19. Winner of the 2022 Mark H. McCormack Medal (Men’s World Amateur Golf Ranking) (must be an amateur)
F-20. Winner of the 2023 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship (must be an amateur)
F-21. Winner of the 2023 Latin America Amateur Championship (must be an amateur)
F-22. From the current Official World Golf Ranking, the top 60 point leaders and ties as of May 22, 2023
F-23. From the current Official World Golf Ranking, the top 60 point leaders and ties as of June 12, 2023 (if not previously exempt)
F-24. Special exemptions selected by the USGA
*Note 1: For Exemptions F-11, F-13 and F-14, players must be considered eligible per PGA Tour regulations at the time the exemption is determined to qualify for the exemption.
**Note 2: For Exemptions F-15, F-16 and F-17, players must be in DP World Tour Membership at the time the exemption is determined to qualify for the exemption.