News & ToursJuly 6, 2009

Should Gulbis, Wie et al. have received Open exemptions?

Randall Mell has an interesting story on thegolfchannel.com regarding the USGA's new exemption criteria for the U.S. Women's Open and LPGA opposition to it.

The old criteria exempted the top 40 players from the previous year's money list and the top 35 on the money list through June 1 of the current year. The new criteria exempts the top 50 from the previous year and the top 10 through June of the current year.

There are 29 amateurs who will be playing in the Women's Open this week, but Michelle Wie and Natalie Gulbis will not be playing, among other notables. Wie is 12th on the money list, Gulbis 33rd. Under the former system, each would have been exempt.

"There were some top LPGA players and marquee names not in the field, and I voiced my concern about that," Jane Geddes, the LPGA's senior vice president of tournament operations and player services and a former Women's Open winner, told Mell. "I understand that after you win a U.S. Women's Open, people don't ask you what the field was like, but I'd like to believe that the U.S. Women's Open is one of the most prestigious championships, if not the most prestigious, and that you are competing against the best players at the moment. I'm not sure this new criteria lends itself to that."

Maybe not. But here's the pertinent point: It's not an invitational, it's an open. To those on the outside looking in, heed the words of Tiger Woods, who once responded to tour players critical of a proposal to reduce the cut line to low 60 and ties (from low 70 and ties) with these words: Play better.

And remember this: Lucas Glover, the winner of the U.S. Open, wasn't given a pass into the national championship. He played his way in via a sectional qualifier.

-- John Strege

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