USGA announces changes to U.S. Senior Open qualifying model, beginning in 2025
USGA Photo
USGA Photo

The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced that the U.S. Senior Open Championship will move to a two-stage qualifying model and adopt modified exemption categories, beginning in 2025.

The U.S. Senior Open, which will be contested next year at The Broadmoor’s East Course in Colorado Springs, Colo., will feature a qualifying framework that is similar to the U.S. Open with 32 local sites and 12 final sites. In 2024, there was one stage of qualifying with 33 sites in 24 U.S. states. The USGA accepted 3,019 entries, the third-highest total in championship history.

Additionally, the U.S. Senior Open’s qualifying model will feature a limited overall reduction in full exemptions along with the appropriate alignment of major championship exemptions. Local exemption criteria will recognize accomplishments at the senior amateur and professional level.

“Retaining the U.S. Senior Open’s openness while ensuring that high-caliber players are provided ample opportunity to earn a spot in the field and that qualifying can be conducted at the highest level is paramount,” said Brent Paladino, USGA senior director of Championship Administration. “Our structure has evolved to ensure the long-term sustainability of qualifying without excessively burdening Allied Golf Associations (AGAs) and host clubs.”

Significant full exemption adjustments include a one-year exemption for PGA Tour Champions winners (based on the timing of victory) instead of 2- or 3-year exemptions, while the Senior PGA, Senior Players, and The Tradition champion will each receive a 5-year exemption.

The establishment of local exemptions will include, but not be limited to, past PGA Tour Champions winners, top finishers in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, top finishers in senior major championships, winners of state senior opens and state senior amateur championships, and a World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR® senior age-filtered category.

The two-stage model expects to maintain the championship's openness, benefit the AGAs and local level, improve qualifying odds, enhance the qualifying experience overall, and strengthen the championship field.

ABOUT THE U.S. Senior Open

The U.S. Senior Open is one of 14 national championships conducted by the USGA. Open to amateurs and professionals who have reached their 50th birthday as of the first day of the championship.

The Senior Open was first played in 1980 with a purse of, get this, just $100,000. Roberto Vincenzo of Argentina was the inaugural champion (winning $20,000), and Arnold Palmer was a popular winner the following year in 1981 at Oakland Hills.

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