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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Elmwood, Bethpage to Host U.S. Open Qualifiers

Elmwood Country Club
Ready to take your shot at the U.S. Open?  Unless you are otherwise exempted, the path to the field in Chambers Bay begins with the local qualifiers, which this year will be held at Elmwood CC in White Plains and the Red Course at Bethpage among some 111 sites in 43 states.

Elmwood is a tough not-so-little Tillinghast track that demands accurate play off the tee and the ability to hit and hold small, well-contoured greens.  It's flourishing under the leadership of Pete Stefanchik, who took over as head pro last year.  The qualifying tournament will be held there on May 13.

The Red Course at Bethpage is considered a near-equal to the more famous Black Course, even though it doesn't have a sign warning less-than-good players to stay away.  Play there will be on May 14.

The U.S. Open will be contested June 18-21 at Chambers Bay, in University Place, WA, the first U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest. Local qualifying, conducted over 18 holes at 111 sites in 43 states, will take place between May 4-21.

“U.S. Open local qualifying represents the start of an exciting two-tiered process in which thousands of golfers from around the world, both professional and amateur, pursue a place in this year’s field at Chambers Bay and the opportunity to compete for our national championship,” says Diana Murphy, USGA vice president and Championship Committee chairman. “U.S. Open qualifying is conducted with the support and expertise provided by state and regional golf associations, and we appreciate their effort and commitment.”

Those players who advance out of local qualifying will compete in sectional qualifying, which will be conducted over 36 holes at 10 U.S. sites on June 8. For the 11th consecutive year, Japan and England will host international sectional qualifying, both scheduled for May 25.

In 2014, the USGA accepted a record 10,127 entries for the championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2, in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C. That total eclipsed the 9,860 for the 2013 championship at Merion Golf Club, in Ardmore, PA.

Just in case you think you're exempt from qualifying, check out the changes made to the local exemptions that were amended prior to 2014. The top 500 point leaders and ties from the Official World Golf Ranking (as of March 2) will be exempt. Any player in the OWGR’s top 500 (as of April 27) who has filed an entry prior to the deadline of 5 p.m. EDT on April 29, will also earn a local exemption. In the past, only the top 150 point leaders were exempted.

Additionally, any player who has had multiple finishes in the top 400 of the year-ending OWGR in the past five calendar years (2010-2014) will be exempt from local qualifying.

Ken Venturi (1964) and Orville Moody (1969) are the only players to win the U.S. Open after qualifying through both local and sectional play. Last year, 24 players advanced through local and sectional qualifying to the 156-player U.S. Open Championship field at Pinehurst.

Oh, and one other thing--very important: To be eligible to play in the qualifier, a player must have a Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4, or be a professional.

Online player registration for the 2015 U.S. Open will begins this week.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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