There are great stories about U.S. Open qualifiers; too bad we won’t have any in 2020 – GolfDigest.com

In this never-ending nightmare of the coronavirus, weve become increasingly numb to disappointments. The first few cancellationssports events, music festivals, in-person classeshit society quite hard. But when youre continuously crossing things off the calendar, it becomes the norm, and human beings have a way of adapting to the norm, however bleak it may be.

Still, a particularly depressing bit of newsat least by golf standardscan still pull at our collective heartstrings and remind us what a huge bummer this continues to be. Mondays announcement that the USGA would be cancelling qualifiers for Septembers U.S. Open wasnt much of a surprise, when you really think about it. Running 108 local qualifiers and 12 sectional qualifiers simply isnt feasible in these times, so the U.S. Open will feature a fully exempt field for the first time in a very long time.

No ones happy about it. Not the players who were going to get in anyway, not the USGA folks, and, of course, not the countless mini-tour guys who relish the opportunity to beat the big boys. This is the U.S. Open after all, a tournament that derives much of its charm from its meritocracy. All you need is a 1.4 index or below, a couple hundred bucks and the ability to take a few Mondays off work, and you could find yourself teeing it up against Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at iconic course such as Shinnecock Hills or Pebble Beach.

In a normal year, roughly half of the field comes from qualifying, though the vast majority of the guys who make it were exempt from the local stage and went straight to sectionals. The most recent winner to come from a sectional was Lucas Glover in 2009 at Bethpage Black, with Michael Campbell also pulling it off in 2005 at Pinehurst.

Its much rarer to make it through both local and sectional. Rare, but not unheard of. A number of guystouring professionals, teaching pros, college players, teenagers, insurance salesmanhave made it through both rounds and then left their mark on the Open itself. In light of todays news, here are a few of the best.

The World Golf Hall of Famers career got off to a solid start in the late 50s, when he broke out on Tour and nearly won a couple Masters. But he experienced such a dramatic loss in form that he had to play in a local qualifier for the 1969 U.S. Open. Good thing he didafter nearly collapsing from opprsive heat during a 36-hole final day, Venturi ended up winning at Congressional, a comeback significant enough to earn him Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year. Orville Moody, 1969 Moody won exactly one of the 266 tournaments he played in during his career: the U.S. Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, And like Venturi, he did so after playing his way through both local and sectional qualifying. He is the last player to win the championship after such a journey.

John Peterson, 2012 Peterson had a fantastic career at LSU, where he was a three-time All-American and won the NCAA individual title in 2011. But in the spring of 2012, he was just a fledgling pro teeing it up in a local qualifier for the U.S. Open. He played his way through local and then sectional to book his place at the Olympic Club. It turned out to be the best week of his professional careerhe made a hole-in-one on Saturday, finished T-4 and made $276,841. Petersons had a strange run since then, playing his way to a PGA Tour, then struggling with injuries, then retiring at age 29, and then seemingly un-retiring shortly thereafter. No matter where his roller coaster golf journey takes him, hell always have that week at Olympic.

Jason Gore, 2005 Gore, who actually works for the USGA now as a player relations director, was on the precipice of the impossible 15 years ago. Hed played his way through local qualifying, through sectional qualifying, made the cut at Pinehurst No. 2, and found himself in the final group of the U.S. Open alongside world No. 5 Retief Goosen. Sunday itself was a disaster for the big guy, Gores 14-over 84 seeing him plummet all the way to a tie for 49th. He held it together for so very long, but he couldnt hold it together long enough.

Andy Zhang, 2012 A cool thing about the U.S. Open qualification process is theres no age limit. If your handicap is low enough, have at it. Fourteen-year-old Andy Zhang did so back in 2012, when he made it through local qualifying only to lose in a playoff at Sectionals. Dream over, right? Nah. He got into the field as an alternate when some of his older competitors pulled out with injuries, opening a spot for the youngest player in U.S. Open history. He shot 79-78 to miss the cut by a million, but thats not really the point.

Beau Hossler, 2012 The 2012 U.S. Open was quite the party for local qualifiers. In addition to Zhang and Peterson, 17-year-old Beau Hossler joined in on the fun. It was actually his second straight year qualifying for the Opennot sure why playing in the U.S. Open doesnt get you into at least Sectionals for the next yearand he made it count at Olympic Club. Hossler briefly held the solo lead at two under on Friday before a late collapse saw him tumble down the board and lose low amateur honors to some guy named Jordan Spieth.

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There are great stories about U.S. Open qualifiers; too bad we won't have any in 2020 - GolfDigest.com

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