Is The US Open Actually Open?

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The Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa, is hosting the 2013 US Open.  For the 113th time, this elite tournament is garnering the attention of the world.  The 156 player event traditionally captures the golf world like most majors.  Unlike other professional tournaments, the United States Golf Association totally controls the US Open.  This arrangement begs someone to ask if their selection process to enter and win this prestigious tournament fair or are the cards stacked in favour of a small elite group of golfers?

The USGA will set the specific rules to their championship, ranging from how the course will be laid out and the course conditions to include the length to the treacherous and famous rough. “The rough should be of sufficient height to provide a significant problem … The USGA believes that the penalty for straying off the fairway should be about one-half stroke.  The desired height of the rough depends on the type of grass involved…  (approximately) 3 and 6 inches, except that there is a strip of rough about 6 feet wide just off the fairways … Less punitive rough would be advisable for most club competitions as it increases the time spent searching for balls and leads to slower play.”  Their exacting standards have caused many a player to self-destruct during the final round.

This year’s entrants include representation from approximately 17 different countries, 76 exempt players, 5 amateurs, and a slew of hopefuls.  This year, the US Open starts on Thursday, 13 June 2013 and ends on Father’s Day, Sunday, 16 June 2013.

“Each year, thousands of competitors enter the U.S. Open. They are professionals and amateurs, teenagers and seniors, All-Americans and walk-ons, teachers and firemen. No matter their background, what they have in common is the dream of teeing it up in the national championship.”

There are some qualifying rules before any golfer can try their hand at winning the US Open.  First, all entrants must have a handicap index of 1.4 or less.  This means that they must shoot 1 shot over the course rating 10 times out of 20 rounds.  This is a very difficult feat except for the best of the best.  This year, qualifying started with an 18-hole local tournament at 111 sites around the United States.  Those excited qualifier winners advanced to sectional competitions around the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan, to compete with exempt players in a 36-hole marathon. After all is said and done, the field for the US Open is set.

So far, all seems fair for those players wishing to raise one of the most valued trophies in golf.  With all this openness, has anyone actually been successful enough to enter the qualifier and win the tournament?  The short answer is yesKen Venturi, 1964 and Orville Moody, 1969.  Other important points include 5 amateur champions who won the US Open eight times.  The oldest winner was Hale Irwin at age 45, the youngest winner was John J. McDermott aged 19, the youngest competitor was Andy Zhang aged 14 and the oldest competitor was Sam Snead at age 61.  Most US Open wins was 4 by four players; one being an amateur…maybe you heard of him, Robert Tyre Jones Jr. Better known as Bobby Jones!

To answer the original question: Is the US Open Actually Open?  The answer is an undeniable yes! The process to qualify is fair, yet challenging.  They allow anyone who has the skill to step up and swing their way to victory!  It is a difficult challenge, but over 9000 golfers felt they had what it takes to win this year’s US Open.

To get ready for the US Open, Major has a top twenty moments in US Open history that will put you in the mood for more action.  The Bleacher Report has some odds set out that may help and Major has power ratings out for those interested in picking the winner.

Golf is a passion and I am a grateful golfer.  See you on the links!

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