Phil Mickelson added to U.S. Open field following expanded exemption criteria

Phil Mickelson is now eligible for the 120th U.S. Open, the major where he’s finished as runner-up six times, after the USGA expanded its exemption categories on Thursday to create the 144-man field.

The U.S. Open will be held without open qualifying for the first time in nearly a century due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was postponed from its original date in June to to Sept. 14 at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y. The forced hiatus of sports also resulted in the cancelation of local and sectional qualifying in the U.S., Canada, England and Japan.

“The exemption categories for this year’s championship at Winged Foot Golf Club were carefully developed to mirror a representative U.S. Open field, and we are excited that players will still have an opportunity to earn a place in the field through a variety of categories,” John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships, said in a news release.

Mickelson exempt due to world ranking

Phil Mickelson will again compete at the U.S. Open after the exemption categories were expanded. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The top 70 players from the world rankings on March 15 are exempt, rather than the typical 60. That will include Mickelson, who was ranked No. 61 at the time the golf schedule was postponed. He’s ranked No. 66 now. The five-time major winner and future Hall of Famer has never won the U.S. Open despite coming in second six times.

That exemption also avoids any issues with golfers being unable to compete in recent weeks as the tour has started back up.

Exemptions include play-ins, points winners

Players can play their way into the tournament starting at the Memorial beginning July 13, and then also through the next five tournaments. The top two among the top 10 finishers, who are not otherwise exempt, will make the field.

At the end of the Tour Championship on Sept. 7, the top five players in Fedx Cup points not otherwise exempt will make it. Exemption categories also include the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular season points and finals (top 5 each), the European Tour’s UK stops (top 10 in aggregate points for first five tournaments) and the PGA Professional Championship (top 3). There will also be spots for a few from each of the Japan Golf Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and Australasia Tour.

Exemptions for USGA championships, including the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur, U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Senior Open, and the Masters remain in play.

Golf’s revamped calendar

The U.S. Open was originally slated for June 18-21. The Charles Schwab Challenge at Fort Worth started off the revamped PGA Tour schedule the weekend of June 11 after the forced pause due to the coronavirus, which continues to spread in the United States.

The PGA Championship is scheduled for Aug. 6-9 with no fans at Harding Park in San Francisco. It will be the first major of the year. The Masters will be played on Nov. 9.

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