The amateur presence for both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open just got a boost.
The USGA has announced that, starting next year, winners of the U.S. Mid-Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur events will be exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open. Similarly, winners of the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur will be exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open.
The announcement was made by USGA President Diana Murphy during the U.S. Mid-Amateur Player’s Dinner in advance of this year’s championship, which starts Saturday at Capital City Club in Atlanta.
The new exemptions mean that Noah Goodwin, the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, is officially in the field for the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., next June. The winner of this week’s U.S. Mid-Amateur will also receive an invitation. Both exemptions are contingent upon the players remaining amateurs.
“Finally getting the opportunity to showcase my skills at the highest level golf has to offer is such a huge honor,” Goodwin said. “Everything about it is going to be an amazing opportunity. I feel like I can compete out there. I just want to go out and see how my game is at, because at the end of the day, it’s a learning opportunity.”
Additionally, the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior winner Erica Shepherd is exempt into next year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala. The winner of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, which will be contested at Champions Golf Club in Houston next month, will also be exempt.
“I thought qualifying for the U.S. Women’s (Amateur) and the U.S. Girls’ Junior for the next three years was a big enough deal, but then to get into the Open … that’s just pretty surreal,” Shepherd said. “I got to play in the Open a couple of years ago and didn’t get to play too well. I was kind of injured last time, so that was hard. I’ve gained some distance and talked to some of the LPGA players, so I think I will be more ready this time.”
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