Ask any golfer not fighting to keep his card, and he’ll tell you that he molds his game to peak for the majors. But the excuse for players such as Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler not qualifying this year’s U.S. Open was that they got hot too late.
The British Open rewards hot play more than any other major, which not only is an exciting way to create a field, but it also injects intrigue into what would otherwise be secondary pre-championship tournaments.
I love that this week’s John Deere Classic has a berth available for next week’s British Open to the top non-exempt finisher (as long as he places in the top five). Ditto this week’s Scottish Open.
I love that Rose’s win at the AT&T National not only redeemed the previous week’s gaffe, but it also got him into the British Open with his finish atop a five-tournament short money list. Ditto Bubba Watson’s therapeutic win two weeks ago, which also notched the second and final berth on that short money list.
I love that even though Ryan Moore’s Sunday charge up the AT&T National leader board came up a shot short of Rose, it was still worth a trip to St. Andrews because he was the top non-exempt finisher.
I love that Fowler and Jeff Overton have been rewarded for their head-turning play this year, and earned spots last weekend as the top two players in the world rankings not already exempt.
To me, those clutch finishes/stretches of play are a better indicator of a golfer’s mettle than a 36-hole sectional qualifier the day after one of the most prestigious non-majors of the year — the Memorial.
Why does the U.S. Open have to cut off qualifying criteria four weeks short — excluding results from the Memorial — when the British Open saves spots for players up until the week of the championship? The U.S. Open is ignoring a prime chunk of the schedule.
Both majors are Opens, meaning they both have their Cinderella qualifying stories. Yet the British Open also bends over backward to make the field as strong as possible. Even the PGA Championship and Masters take care of winners on the PGA Tour until the week of their respective majors.
Why is the U.S. Open different? If you can make a transatlantic flight from the John Deere Classic to Scotland and play in the British Open four days later, why do you need four weeks to know if you are in the U.S. Open?
You hear that the U.S. Open isn’t the strongest field — it’s the most democratic. But why can’t it be both?
[AP Photo/Jessica Hill]