Four members of the European Tour – Lucas Herbert, Kurt Kitayama, Robert MacIntyre and Eddie Pepperell – have all qualified for the U.S. Open following the latest update to this year’s exemption list.
The European Tour have confirmed that ten spots in the 2020 U.S. Open Championship will be available for the highest placed finishers in the mini order of merit after the first five events of the new UK Swing, but there are four players who have already benefited from the latest update.
The USGA announced that they have made changes to one of their customary exemptions, now allowing this year’s field to include the top 70 from the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), as of March 15, instead of the usual top 60.
This particular adjustment adds nine further players to the field at Winged Foot Golf Club on September 17-20, including European Tour golfers Lucas Herbert (64), Eddie Pepperell (65), Robert MacIntyre (67) and Kurt Kitayama (68).
“We see it as a bit of a silver lining,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships. “The narrative of the U.S. Open is different without qualifying, but hopefully there’s some chatter around this, some interest. We think there will be.”
The second major of the year marks the first time that either Kitayama and MacIntyre have qualified for the U.S. Open, while Herbert played the tournament in 2018 at Shinnecock Hills, and Pepperell played in both 2013 at Merion Golf Club, where he missed the cut, and in 2017 at Erin Hills, where he finished tied 16th.
Phil Mickelson, who had been ranked 61st in the Official World Golf Rankings, has also qualified in this category, along with Andrew Putnam, Keegan Bradley, Chan Kim and Joel Dahmen.
The changes have come after traditional U.S. Open sectional qualifying events, including the European qualifier at Walton Heath in June, were cancelled this season following the upheaval in the global golf calendar due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, with the field now comprised entirely of exempt players.
As a result, European Tour golfers will now have the chance to earn exemption through the UK Swing, which begins at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood at Close House, near Newcastle, from Wednesday July 22 to Saturday July 25. Read more here.