Garcia Gets Into US Open That Now Tilts Away From Qualifying

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Sergio Garcia was left out of the PGA Championship, the first time in 24 years he was not eligible for a major. The day after Brooks Koepka won, the Spaniard made it to the next major through U.S. Open qualifying in Dallas.

That was the third of 13 final qualifiers for the U.S. Open, to be held June 15-18 at Los Angeles Country Club. Already in the books are England last week and Japan on Monday, where Ryo Ishikawa was among three to advance.

The other 10 are on June 5 — the Monday after the Memorial. Along with one more look at the top 60 from the world ranking, that will complete the 156-man field.

But there are fewer qualifying spots than typically available. The USGA prides itself on being the most “open” of the majors. For three years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 78 players who had to go through 36-hole qualifying — half of the field.

The pandemic required some changes because of travel restrictions. But now that golf is back to normal, qualifying is not.

The PGA Championship was the cutoff for the top 60 in the world ranking — that was previously the case — but it also was the cutoff for the leading five players from the FedEx Cup standings. That provided spots for Nick Taylor, Mackenzie Hughes, Taylor Montgomery, Hayden Buckley and Andrew Putnam.

Putnam, currently at No. 37 in the FedEx Cup, ordinarily would have gone through qualifying — ditto for Hughes, who dropped three spots to No. 62 in the world when he missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

The USGA also reserved a spot for the points leader on the Korn Ferry Tour last year — Justin Suh, No. 75 in the FedEx Cup and No. 76 in the world ranking.

There also is a new spot for the NCAA champion this year.

Throw those out and it would bring the number to roughly the 50-50 range as it was before.

The USGA also provided five additional spots for the European tour — three from the Race to Dubai are various points, and two more from a special four-tournament money list that ends in Germany next week. However, the UK qualifier went from 12 or 13 spots to seven this year, so that’s a push.

Among those outside the top 60 who have two weeks to work themselves back in are Kevin Kisner (65) and Scott Stallings (68). Both are at Colonial this week.