David Toms and Steve Stricker, who turned 50 this year and thus eligible to compete for the first time, were among the 2,680 individuals to file an entry into the 38th U.S. Senior Open Championship, scheduled for June 29-July 2 at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass.
Toms, the winner of the 2001 PGA Championship, and Stricker, the captain of the 2017 U.S. Presidents Cup Team, along with 12 past champions, join a group of 83 players who are currently exempt from qualifying for the championship. Also entered for the first time is four-time major champion Nick Faldo, who lost an 18-hole playoff to Curtis Strange in the 1988 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
“We look forward to bringing the U.S. Senior Open Championship to Salem Country Club for the first time since 2001 and adding another chapter to the club’s storied history,” said Stuart Francis, USGA Championship Committee chairman. “The U.S. Senior Open is considered senior golf’s most coveted championship. The number of entries demonstrates the great interest in competing for the Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Trophy.”
The U.S. Senior Open is open to professional golfers, and amateurs with a Handicap Index® not exceeding 3.4 who are 50 years of age at the start of championship play.
Sectional qualifying will be played over 18 holes at 34 sites across the United States between May 15 and June 12. There are qualifying sites in 27 states, including five in California and three in Florida. In addition, places in the 156-player field are reserved for eligible winners of official PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions events in the weeks remaining before the 2017 U.S. Senior Open.
The USGA accepted entries from golfers in 48 states, including 81 from Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia, as well as 25 foreign countries. The record for entries was established in 2002, when 3,101 golfers applied to play.
This will be the third U.S. Senior Open in New England and the second at Salem Country Club. Bruce Fleisher won at Salem in 2001, defeating Isao Aoki and Gil Morgan by one stroke. Fleisher, the runner-up in the previous year’s U.S. Senior Open to Hale Irwin, shot a 2-under 68 in the final round. In 1987, Gary Player won by six strokes over Doug Sanders at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn.
Salem Country Club is hosting its sixth USGA championship. Two of the greatest players in golf history have earned the U.S. Women’s Open title at the club. Babe Didrikson Zaharias claimed her third Women’s Open in 1954 while Hollis Stacy also won her third in 1984. Salem also hosted the 1932 U.S. Women’s Amateur (won by Virginia Van Wie) and 1977 U.S. Senior Amateur (won by Dale Morey).
Gene Sauers, the defending champion, and 11 other Senior Open champions are fully exempt from having to qualify for the championship. They are: Olin Browne (2011), Brad Bryant (2007), Roger Chapman (2012), Allen Doyle (2005, 2006), Dave Eichelberger (1999), Hale Irwin (1998, 2000), Peter Jacobsen (2004), Bernhard Langer (2010), Jeff Maggert (2015), Colin Montgomerie (2014), and Kenny Perry (2013).
There are five U.S. Open champions among the 83 exempt players. They are: three-time champion Hale Irwin (1974, 1979, 1990), two-time champion Lee Janzen (1993, 1998), Tom Kite (1992), Corey Pavin (1995) and Tom Watson (1982). There are also nine U.S. Open runners-up entered. They are: Nick Faldo (1988), Miguel Angel Jimenez (2000), Tom Lehman (1996), Rocco Mediate (2008), Colin Montgomerie (1994, 1997, 2006), Loren Roberts (1994), Jeff Sluman (1992), Watson (1983, 1987) and Ian Woosnam (1989).
For the seventh consecutive year, only online entries were accepted, beginning on March 8. Andy Santor, a 52-year-old professional from Youngstown, Ohio, submitted his entry two minutes and 17 seconds before the deadline of 5 p.m. EDT on May 10. Doug Clapp, a 49-year-old amateur (will turn 50 on May 28) from Walpole, Mass., was the first entrant.
The list of the 83 golfers who are fully exempt into the 2017 U.S. Senior Open (as of May 10):
Bold – U.S. Senior Open champion