27 more players punch their tickets to the U.S. Open at Oakmont
By Stephanie Wei under US Open

2016 US Open Oakmont

The USGA announced on Tuesday that 27 additional golfers, including past U.S. Amateur champions Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun (Ben) An and Matthew Fitzpatrick, have earned exemptions into the 2016 U.S. Open, which will be held June 16-19 at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. These exemptions bring the number of players in the field to 78.

The 27 exemptions were awarded to players who were ranked inside the top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as of May 23 (or after last week’s Byron Nelson). An, the 2009 U.S. Amateur champion, is ranked no. 26 and has made two starts at the U.S. Open. He will be seeking to make the cut for the first time in a few weeks time. Fitzpatrick, who won the 2013 U.S. Amateur, is ranked no. 44. In his only appearance in the championship in 2014, the 21-year-old Brit tied for 48th and earned low amateur honors. Moore, one of the most decorated USGA amateur players with victories at the 2004 U.S. Amateur and 2002 and 2004 U.S. Amateur Public Links, is ranked no. 49 and has competed in nine previous U.S. Opens. However, he hasn’t had much success with USGA setups since turning professional, with his best finish being a tie for 10th in 2009 at Bethpage Black.

Sergio Garcia, who captured his ninth PGA Tour title on Sunday, moved to no. 12 in the OWGR. He earns the honor of being the highest-ranked player at the moment that was not previously exempt into the U.S. Open. OK, that really surprised me to hear he wasn’t already exempt. I guess it’s just easy to assume that players of Sergio’s caliber are always automatically in the field. Garcia has made 16 starts in the U.S. Open and notched four top-10 finishes, including a tie for third in 2005 at Pinehurst.

The other players who earned full exemptions through the current Official World Golf Ranking are: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Rafael Cabrera Bello, Kevin Chappell, Jamie Donaldson, Emiliano Grillo, James Hahn, Billy Horschel, Thongchai Jaidee, Smylie Kaufman, K.T. Kim, Chris Kirk, Patton Kizzire, Soren Kjeldsen, Russell Knox, Anirban Lahiri, Marc Leishman, David Lingmerth, Andy Sullivan, Justin Thomas, Jaco Van Zyl, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger and Chris Wood.

Donaldson snagged the last spot available via the rankings in this wave, moving from no. 62 in the world to no. 60 on Monday. The Welshman tied for 10th at the Irish Open last week. Unfortunately, the odd man out was Robert Streb, who fell from no. 59 to no. 61. Streb did not play in the Byron Nelson and he failed to make the cut in his last start at The Players Championship. However, no need to fret (entirely)! — there are still several ways for players to compete in the U.S. Open.

The winner of the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship this week will also earn an exemption. The USGA will grant golfers a spot in the field to those previously not qualified if they play their way into the top 60 in the OWGR as of Monday, June 13.

Then, there’s sectional qualifying — my favorite! I’m serious. With the death of Q-school, U.S. Open sectional qualifying is the most fun day to cover in golf in my humble opinion. Longtime readers should be familiar with my fondness for the 36-hole qualifier, as I’ve written about it every year since 2011.

The first of two international sectional qualifiers for the 2016 U.S. Open was held May 23, in Japan, where four spots in the 156-player field were determined. England will host qualifying for the 12th straight year on May 30 for a number of exemptions, as well. 

The U.S. sectional qualifying will take place at 10 sites on Monday, June 6th (the day after The Memorial Tournament). The venues are: Lake Merced Golf Club & The Olympic Club (Ocean Course), San Francisco, Calif.; Timuquana Country Club, Jacksonville, Fla.; Ansley Golf Club (Settindown Creek Course), Roswell, Ga.; Woodmont Country Club (North Course), Rockville, Md.; Canoe Brook Country Club (North and South Courses), Summit, N.J.; Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club & Wedgewood Golf and Country Club, Columbus, Ohio; Springfield Country Club, Springfield, Ohio; Germantown Country Club & Ridgeway Country Club, Memphis, Tenn.; Lakeside Country Club, Houston, Texas; and Royal Oaks Country Club, Vancouver, Wash.

I will be on-site covering the action in Columbus. That qualifier always feels like a PGA Tour event because basically everyone vying for a spot is a Tour player and chooses to play in the qualifier the day after the Memorial. The other really strong field is Memphis since it’s the next stop on Tour right after Columbus.

The U.S. Open will be contested for a record ninth time at Oakmont Country Club. Previous U.S. champions at Oakmont are: Tommy Armour (1927), Sam Parks Jr. (1935), Ben Hogan (1953), Jack Nicklaus (1962), Johnny Miller (1973), Larry Nelson (1983), Ernie Els (1994) and Angel Cabrera (2007).

It’s time like this where I’ll miss having Johnny Miller in the booth. I mean, we all know how much he *loves* talking about his 63 in the final round at Oakmont to win the ’73 U.S. Open. And I don’t blame him one bit. If I’d achieved such a feat, I’m sure I’d bring it up every chance I got.

Here is a list of the 78 fully exempt golfers as of May 23:

Byeong Hun An 13 Russell Knox 13
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 13 Brooks Koepka 12, 13
a-Derek Bard 2 Matt Kuchar 12, 13
Daniel Berger 12, 13 Anirban Lahiri 13
Steven Bowditch 12 Danny Lee 12, 13
Keegan Bradley 7 Marc Leishman 13
Angel Cabrera 1 David Lingmerth 13
Rafael Cabrera Bello 13 Shane Lowry 11, 13
Paul Casey 12, 13 Jeff Maggert 10
Kevin Chappell 13 Hideki Matsuyama 12, 13
Darren Clarke 6 Graeme McDowell 1
Jason Day 7, 8, 11,12,13 Rory McIlroy 1, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13
Jamie Donaldson 13 Phil Mickelson 6, 13
Jason Dufner 7 Ryan Moore 13
Ernie Els 6 Kevin Na 12, 13
Harris English 12 Geoff Ogilvy 1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 13 Louis Oosthuizen 11, 12, 13
Rickie Fowler 8, 12, 13 Scott Piercy 12, 13
Jim Furyk 12, 13 a-Jon Rahm 4
Sergio Garcia 13 Patrick Reed 12, 13
Lucas Glover 1 Justin Rose 1, 12, 13
Branden Grace 11, 13 Charl Schwartzel 11, 13
Emiliano Grillo 13 Adam Scott 5, 11, 13
Retief Goosen 15 Webb Simpson 1
Bill Haas 12, 13 Cameron Smith 11
James Hahn 13 Brandt Snedeker 11, 12, 13
Charley Hoffman 12, 13 Jordan Spieth 1, 5, 11, 12, 13
J.B. Holmes 12, 13 Henrik Stenson 12, 13
Billy Horschel 13 Robert Streb 12
Thongchai Jaidee 13 Andy Sullivan 13
Dustin Johnson 11, 12, 13 Justin Thomas 13
Zach Johnson 6, 12, 13 Jaco Van Zyl 13
Smylie Kaufman 13 Jimmy Walker 12, 13
Martin Kaymer 1, 8, 13 Bubba Watson 5, 12, 13
K.T. Kim 13 Lee Westwood 13
Chris Kirk 13 Bernd Wiesberger 13
Kevin Kisner 12, 13 Danny Willett 5, 13
Patton Kizzire 13 Chris Wood 13
Soren Kjeldsen 13 Tiger Woods 1

Bold – U.S. Open champion      a-amateur

Key to Player Exemptions:

  1. Winners of the U.S. Open Championship the last 10 years (2006-15)
  2. Winner and runner-up of the 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship (must be an amateur)
  3. Winner of the 2015 Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A (must be an amateur)
  4. Winner of the 2015 Mark H. McCormack Medal (top-ranked in WAGR & must be an amateur)
  5. Winners of the Masters Tournament the last five years (2012-16)
  6. Winners of The Open Championship, conducted by the R&A, the last five years (2011-15)
  7. Winners of The PGA of America Championship the last five years (2011-15)
  8. Winners of The Players Championship the last three years (2014-16)
  9. Winner of the 2016 European Tour BMW PGA Championship
  10. Winner of the 2015 U.S. Senior Open Championship
  11. From the 2015 U.S. Open Championship, the 10 lowest scorers and anyone tying for 10th place
  12. Those players who qualified for the season-ending 2015 Tour Championship
  13. Top 60 point leaders and ties from the current World Ranking as of May 23, 2016
  14. Top 60 point leaders and ties from the current World Ranking as of June 13, 2016
  15. Special exemptions selected by the USGA