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2020 U.S. Women’s Open to be Contested Without Qualifying May 18, 2020 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By David Shefter, USGA

The 2020 U.S. Women's Open will be conducted without qualifying for the first time since 1975. (USGA/Chris Keane)

For the first time in 45 years, the U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club, in Houston, Texas, on Dec. 10-13, will be contested without pre-championship qualifying. Due to continued health concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the USGA announced the decision on May 19 to conduct the competition with a field comprised entirely of exempt players. In early April, the USGA postponed the championship from its original June dates to December.

“As you can imagine, this was an incredibly difficult decision, as qualifying is a cornerstone of USGA championships,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of Championships for the USGA. “We take great pride in the fact that hundreds of players typically enter to pursue their dream of qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open and we deeply regret that they will not have that opportunity this year. But this structure provides the best path forward for us to conduct the U.S. Women’s Open.”

In partnership with Allied Golf Associations (AGAs) and select international associations, the USGA had scheduled 36-hole qualifying at 25 sites – 21 in the United States and four internationally – between April 21 and May 14.

The USGA instituted qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open in 1976 when entries for the championship topped 200. The USGA used a two-stage process similar to the U.S. Open for two years (2002-03) before returning to one stage of qualifying in 2004. In 2010, qualifying transitioned from 18 holes to 36 holes.

The growth in the women’s game – both in the United States and abroad – has played a major role in the spike of entries for the U.S. Women’s Open. Every year since 2004, entries have surpassed 1,000, with a record 1,873 entries accepted in 2015 when the championship was held at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club.

Birdie Kim, in 2005 at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo., is the last player to win the championship as a qualifier.

At the time of the postponement, 59 players had earned exemptions into the championship. In the coming weeks, the USGA will provide further information on expanded exemption categories.

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