USGA announces exemption categories for 2020 U.S. Women's Open in December

July 01, 2020
U.S. Women's Open - Final Round

Jeongeun Lee6 of South Korea celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2019 U.S. Women's Open.

Streeter Lecka

For nearly three months the USGA has worked on the new qualifying conditions for the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the USGA announced in April that the normal local and sectional qualifying would not be feasible. Instead, it has announced extensive exemption categories—20 in total—for the U.S. Women’s Open, which will be held Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.

“Our guiding principle throughout this process was to put a criteria together that really resembled fields of the past,” said Shannon Rouillard, USGA senior director of championships.

That meant, among other changes, making drastic alterations to how amateurs can get in. “On any given year, we studied the last three years, we’ve averaged 25 amateurs in the field,” Rouillard said. “The majority of amateurs are making their way into the Women’s Open through qualifying, and we certainly couldn’t overlook that fact.”

To help make this year’s field reflect what a U.S. Women’s Open field would look like in a normal qualifying year, a new amateur exemption category was added: the top 20 points leaders in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, who haven’t already qualified, as of Nov. 4.

2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur

Gabriela Ruffels watches her putt go into the cup as she won the final match of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss.

Steven Gibbons

There are big changes for the pros, too. Now, the top 75 women in the Rolex World Rankings (as of March 16) are exempt in 2020, up from the usual top 50. That gets Solheim Cup players Morgan Pressel (No. 56) and Annie Park (No. 66) in. Those in the top 10 on the LPGA money list, as of Nov. 11, will qualify if they haven't already done so. The top five from the Symetra Tour will be in.

Also new, the top two players, not exempt otherwise, from the top 10 of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, the Cambia Portland Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic will qualify, as will the top three, not otherwise qualified, among the top 10 of the KPMG Women’s LPGA Championship.

Without any international qualifying, the top five players on the 2019 money lists for the LET, the Korea LPGA, the Japan LPGA, and the top three on the China LPGA Tour will be exempt.

Though local and sectional qualifying make the U.S. Women’s Open special, unprecedented times call for unprecedented changes to major championships.

“We feel it is so important for us to conduct the Women’s Open, and this one especially, with it being a milestone year for the Women’s Open, the 75th anniversary,” Rouillard said. “That really means a lot to us, and we know it means a lot of women’s professional golf as well.”

List of exempt players for the 2020 U.S. Women's Open:

Winners of the U.S. Women’s Open Championship the last 10 years (2010-2019): Jeongeun Lee6, Ariya Jutanugarn, Sung Hyun Park, Brittany Lang, In Gee Chun, Michelle Wie, Inbee Park, Na Yeon Choi, So Yeon Ryu, Paula Creamer.

From the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open Championship, the 10 lowest scorers and anyone tying for 10th place: Celine Boutier, Jaye Marie Green, Mamiko Higa, Jessica Korda, Jeongeun Lee6, Yu Liu, Ally McDonald, Gerina Piller, So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson, Angel Yin.

Winner of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship: Gabriela Ruffels.

Winners of the 2019 U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships and the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship Runner-up (must be an amateur): Lei Ye, Ina Kim-Shaad. (Albane Valenzuela would've also been exempt, but she turned pro.)

Winners of the ANA Inspiration Championship the last five years (2016-2020): Jin Young Ko, Pernilla Lindberg, So Yeon Ryu, Lydia Ko.

Winners of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (five-year exemption) (2016-2019): Hannah Green, Sung Hyun Park, Danielle Kang, Brooke Henderson.

Winners of the Evian Championship the last five years (2015-2019): Jin Young Ko, Angela Stanford, Anna Nordqvist, In Ghee Chun, Lydia Ko

Winners of the AIG Women’s British Open Championship the last five years (2015-2019): Hinako Shibuno, Georgia Hall, I.K. Kim, Ariya Jutanugarn, Inbee Park.

The top 30-point leaders from the 2019 LPGA Race to the CME Globe Final Points: Brittany Altomare, Celine Boutier, Carlota Ciganda, Shanshan Feng, Hannah Green, Nasa Hataoka, Brooke Henderson, Mi Jung Hur, Sung Hyun Park, Eun-Hee Ji, Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Danielle Kang, Hyo Joo Kim, Sei Young Kim, Jin Young Ko, Jessica Korda, Nelly Korda, Bronte Law, Minjee Lee, Jeongeun Lee6, Yu Liu, Gaby Lopez, Caroline Masson, Azahara Munoz, Su-Hyun Oh, Inbee Park, Lizette Salas, Lexi Thompson, Amy Yang.

Winners of LPGA co-sponsored events, whose victories are considered official, from the conclusion of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open Championship to the originally scheduled 2020 U.S. Women’s Open Championship (June 1-7): Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson, Hannah Green, Sung Hyun Park, Shanshan Feng, Sei Young Kim, Jin Young Ko, Hinako Shibuno, Mi Jung Hur, Jin Young Ko, Hannah Green, Mi Jung Hur, Cheyenne Knight, Danielle Kang, Ha-Na Jang, Nelly Korda, Ai Suzuki, Sei Young Kim, Gaby Lopez, Madelene Sagstrom, Hee Young Park, Inbee Park.

Winner of the 2019 Women’s British Amateur Championship staged by The R&A (must be an amateur): Emily Toy.

From Week 11 (March 16, 2020) of the Rolex Rankings, the top 75-point leaders and ties. J.Y. Ko, N. Korda, S.H. Park, N. Hataoka, D. Kang, S.Y. Kim, B. Henderson, M. Lee, L. Thompson, J.E. Lee6, I. Park, H. Shibuno, H.J. Kim, A. Suzuki, C. Ciganda, J. Korda, A. Jutanugarn, S.Y. Ryu, L. Salas, M.J. Hur, H. Green, A. Yang, S. Feng, H.J. Lim, C. Hull, J.Y. Shin, H.J. Choi, B. Altomare, M. Alex, D.Y. Lee, H.N. Jang, A.Y. Cho, S.W. Bae, B. Law, Y. Liu, C. Masson, M. Jutanugarn, E.H. Ji, G. Hall, A. Yin, L. Ko, J. Kupcho, M. Sagstrom, A. Olson, M.J. Park, S.M. Lee, I.G. Chun, M. Pressel, S.H. Oh, S.J. Ahn, M. Inami, A. McDonald, N.K. Madsen, Y. Kawamoto, M. Ueda, J.M. Cho, S.Y. Lee, A. Park, M. Katsu, N.B. Larsen, A. Ernst, A.L. Kim, M. Higa, J. Y2 Kim, C.Y. Park, C. Choi, J. Yan.

Top five LET members from the final 2019 LET Order of Merit and the top five money leaders from the final 2019 Japan LPGA and Korea LPGA Tours: Esther Henseleit, Marianne Skarpnord, Christine Wolf, Nuria Iturrioz, Meghan MacLaren, Ai Suzuki, Hinako Shibuno, Jiyai Shin, Seon Woo Bae, Min-young2 Lee, Hye Jin Choi, Ha Na Jang, Da Yeon Lee, Hee Jeong Lim, A-yean Cho

Top three money leaders from the 2019 China LPGA Tour: Weiwei Zhang, Yan Liu, Mohan Du.

Special exemptions as selected by the USGA: Brittany Lincicome, Sarah Jane Smith (both received Maternity Extensions).

The top two players, not otherwise exempt, in the top 10 and ties of the 2020 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Cambria Portland Classic, ShopRite Classic, and top three players, not otherwise exempt, in the top 10 and ties of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship:

The top 20 ranked players within the top 100 of the Women's World Amateur GOlf Ranking as of Nov. 4, 2020

After all exemption categories are complete, remaining spots in the championship field will be filled in order using the Rolex Rankings (RR) as of Nov. 9, 2020. Once the field is set, the USGA will compile an alternate list for the championship using the RR as of Nov. 9, 2020.