USGA exemption change benefits U.S. Am, Women's Am winners
Viktor Hovland (USGA photo)
Viktor Hovland (USGA photo)

The USGA has announced a major policy change that is likely to benefit the winners of the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur. Beginning this year, those champions will be afforded the opportunity to utilize their exemptions in the following year’s U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur or professional. The USGA previously required winners to remain amateur in order to reap those exemptions.

“We believe this change gives our champions an important option as they choose whether and when to embark on their professional careers,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Managing Director, Championships. “Given the significant purses awarded at the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, we realize how important it is for players to make the most appropriate decision for his or her career, and the positive impact it could have at the outset of their professional careers.”

Over the past decade, four of 10 U.S. Amateur and three of 10 U.S. Women’s Amateur champions forewent their exemptions into the following year’s Open Championships, choosing to turn professional.

“Given the opportunities afforded the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur champions, we want to make sure they are able to take advantage of as many as possible,” said Bodenhamer. “We feel strongly that our reigning champions have earned their places in the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, regardless of their amateur status.”

Viktor Hovland, last year’s U.S. Amateur winner, provides an example of how players can benefit from this new stipulation. Hovland waited until after the U.S. Open, where he tied for 12th, to turn professional. That meant he didn’t get to reap the FedEx Cup points or the money he would have earned with that finish.

Hovland narrowly missed earning enough non-member FedEx Cup points for a PGA Tour card for next season. He will now have to play the Korn Ferry Tour finals to attempt qualifying.

Quotes and information from the USGA used in this report

ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur

The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA championship, was first played in 1895 at Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent amateur competition in the world. Applications are typically placed online in the spring at www.usga.org.

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