Road To US Open Begins, Some LIV Golf Players Take A Pass

The road to the U.S. Open began this week for thousands of players, with an 18-hole local qualifier in the Houston area on Monday and another in North Carolina on Wednesday.

A dozen or so players from LIV Golf already decided to pass by not entering.

That includes Louis Oosthuizen, a runner-up at Torrey Pines in 2021 and at Chambers Bay in 2015. By not filing a U.S. Open entry, his only other avenue to Los Angeles Country Club is to win the PGA Championship next month. He currently is not in the PGA field, and at No. 136 in the world, is not likely to get an invitation.

Others who chose not to enter and who are well outside the top 100 in the world are Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, Charles Howell III, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Charl Schwartzel.

Patrick Reed also did not file an entry, though he could be safe. The U.S. Open exempts anyone from the top 60 in the world ranking on May 22, the Monday after the PGA Championship. Reed’s tie for fourth at the Masters has him at No. 44 this week, and it looks as though he will stay in the top 60.

The U.S. Open is June 15-18.

Talor Gooch is at No. 57 this week and did not file an entry. Without access to world ranking points, he would need a big finish in the PGA Championship to have a chance. That starts with getting into the PGA Championship, and special invitations have not been announced.

Kerry Haigh, the chief championships officer for the PGA, has said he “absolutely” would consider LIV Golf players in trying to put together the best field for Oak Hill on May 18-21.

Among the players from Saudi-funded LIV Golf who entered are Sergio Garcia, Matthew Wolff, Marc Leishman and Harold Varner III.

Garcia has signed up for the first 36-hole sectional qualifier in Dallas on May 22, the Monday before Colonial. The former Masters champion has played in every U.S. Open starting with Pebble Beach in 2000. The last time he had to go through qualifying was in 2011, when he advanced in a 7-for-4 playoff.

The R&A takes the top 50 from the May 22 ranking for the British Open. The deadline for entering is not until June 1.

The USGA accepted a record 10,187 entries, breaking the previous mark of 10,127 accepted in 2014 when the U.S. Open was held at Pinehurst No. 2.

The USGA said 52 players are exempt from qualifying — Ryan Fox and Tommy Fleetwood also are locked in but not yet announced — from the European tour points list last year. It would appear to be on target for its goal of having roughly half of the 156-man field come from 36-hole qualifying.