So, how does an amateur golfer make it to the U.S. Open? The road is pretty simple… to understand.
Unless you meet one of 15 exemptions, you must go through the U.S. Open qualifying process, which is only open to players with a USGA men's handicap index of 1.4 or lower.
First, enter a local qualifier (played over 18 holes), held at 114 different locations in 2018. The number of qualifying spots is determined by the size of the field.
The top few golfers advance to one of 12 sectional qualifiers (played over 36 holes in one day). Again, the number of qualifying spots is determined by the strength and size of the field, but the top finishers advance to the U.S. Open.
This year, 20 amateurs have qualified. It's the highest number of amateurs to qualify for the U.S. Open since 1962. Of those, three received Exemption 2 (Winners of 2017 U.S. Amateur, U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur, and runner-up of the 2017 U.S. Amateur), one received Exemption 3 (Winner of the 2017 Amateur Championship conducted by the R&A), eight were exempt from local qualifiers, but qualified through sectionals, and eight more took the full route, making it through local and sectional qualifiers.
Here is each one, and how they got here:
*Bios courtesy of the U.S. Open website.
The 2017 USA Walker Cup competitor qualified for his first U.S. Open by shooting 9-under 134 in the Memphis, Tenn., sectional held at Ridgeway Country Club and Colonial Country Club. Thornberry enjoyed a stellar 2017 amateur/collegiate season, winning the NCAA Division I individual title at Rich Harvest Farms outside of Chicago as well as the prestigious Jones Cup at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga. Has posted 11 college victories at the University of Mississippi where he is a rising senior. Became the first Ole Miss golfer to compete in the Walker Cup. A couple of weeks earlier, he defeated world No. 1 Joaquin Niemann in the Round of 64 of the 117th U.S. Amateur at The Riviera Country Club.
Will make his first U.S. Open start after earning medalist honors in the Daly City, Calif., sectional, where he posted 8-under 135 at Lake Merced Golf Club and The Olympic Club's Ocean Course. Was a quarterfinalist in the 2017 U.S. Amateur at The Riviera Country Club. Just completed his sophomore season at Arizona State, where he had a 70.58 stroke average. He tied for 12th in the NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. Won three college tournaments as a freshman. Won the 2015 Western Junior. Born and raised in Chinese Taipei.
Earned his first U.S. Open start as the runner-up to Doc Redman in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship at The Riviera Country Club. Ghim held a 2-up lead with two to play, only to see Redman eagle the 35th hole and birdie the 36th hole to force extra holes. He eventually conceded Redman's birdie putt on the first extra hole. The University of Texas All-American also was the runner-up to Byron Meth in the final U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 2014, ironically a match that also went 37 holes. In April, Ghim earned low-amateur honors at The Masters Tournament, registering three eagles and a hole-out birdie from the bunker on his 72nd hole. Member of the victorious 2017 USA Walker Cup Team, where he posted a 4-0-0 record. Semifinalist in the 2013 U.S. Junior, losing to future University of Texas teammate and eventual champion Scottie Scheffler. Won the 2017 Pacific Coast Amateur and was a member of the 2016 and 2017 USA Palmer Cup Teams.
Earned first U.S. Open start by shooting 6-under 138 in the Daly City, Calif., sectional qualifier at Lake Merced Golf Club and The Olympic Club's Ocean Course. Just completed senior season at Stanford University. Advanced to match play at 2016 U.S. Amateur. Registered a 71.26 stroke average this past season. A two-time honorable-mention All-American.
The full-time National Hockey League referee qualified for his first U.S. Open via the Roswell, Ga., sectional. He posted 2-under 142 on Ansley Golf Club's Settindown Creek Course to share medalist honors with Web.com Tour player Michael Hebert. Rank just completed his second full season as a referee, working 73 regular-season and three postseason games, including one as an alternate linesman during the Columbus/Washington first-round series. He is a three-time Canadian Mid-Amateur champion who was the runner-up to Nathan Smith in the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur. Also a two-time semifinalist with partner Patrick Christovich in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Tied for 77th in the 2016 RBC Canadian Open, a PGA Tour event. Teamed with current European Tour player Austin Connelly in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. Has overcome testicular cancer.
Earned his first U.S. Open start by winning the 2017 Amateur Championship conducted by The R&A. He joined Sir Michael Bonnallack and Mike Lunt as the only players to have won the Amateur Championship and English Amateur, a feat he accomplished in 2012 at just 16 years of age. He surpassed six-time major champion Nick Faldo as the youngest winner of the English Amateur. Member of the 2017 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Team. Currently a senior at Florida State University, where he was an honorable-mention All-America last season.
Qualified for his first U.S. Open by earning co-medalist honors with his Louisiana State University teammate and 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Philip Barbaree in the Richmond, Texas, sectional. Shot 11-under 133 at Shadow Hawk Golf Club, site of the 2005 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur and 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur. Just completed his freshman season at LSU. Set scoring record of 18-under 266 in winning the 2016 Trusted Choice "Big I" Championship at Del Paso Country Club, site of the 2015 U.S. Senior Open. In 13 events this past season, he registered a scoring average of 72.57 with a victory at the David Toms Intercollegiate.
Reitan was the lone amateur to qualify out of the Surrey, England, sectional, posting 6-under 138 at Walton Heath Golf Club. Reitan was originally going to attend the University of Texas, but last April decided against coming to play American college golf. Competed for Norway in last summer's European Team Championship. This will be his first appearance in a major championship.
Qualified for his first U.S. Open via Jupiter, Fla., sectional, where he earned medalist honors by shooting 6-under 138 at The Bear's Club. Earned a spot in sectionals by advancing from Orlando, Fla., local qualifier. A rising senior at Louisiana State University, where he was teammates with 2018 U.S. Open qualifiers Philip Barbaree, Jacob Bergeron and Sam Burns. Led LSU this past season with a 71.16 scoring average, which included one victory and four top-5s. Was born in Costa Rica but attended high school in Orlando. Qualified for a pair of U.S. Junior Amateurs and reached the quarterfinals of the 2016 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills.
The full-time firefighter from Brockton, Mass., earned his first U.S. Open start by winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship last October at Capital City Club's Crabapple Course. He is the first Mid-Amateur champion to receive a U.S. Open exemption after the USGA announced last fall that the U.S. Mid-Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur champions would be exempt into the field. Parziale defeated Josh Nelson in the championship match, 8 and 6. His victory also earned him an invitation into the 2018 Masters, where he missed the cut. He won the 2017 Massachusetts Amateur at Charles River Country Club. Parziale, a reinstated amateur, also is getting married in August. He played his college golf at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla.
Earned his first U.S. Open start by winning the U.S. Junior Amateur last July at Victoria National Golf Club in Andover, Kan. That exemption didn't come, however, until October when the USGA announced the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur champions would be exempt into the U.S. Open field. Goodwin, the runner-up to Min Woo Lee in 2016 at The Honors Course, rallied from 4 down with eight to play to beat Matthew Wolff, 1 up. Goodwin, of Corinth, Texas, graduate high school a semester early to enroll at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in January. Goodwin was named the American Junior Golf Association's Player of the Year for 2016 and 2017, becoming the fifth player to ever achieve the feat. That list includes the likes of USGA champions Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Brian Harman. Goodwin also was a member of the 2016 USA Junior Ryder Cup Team and 2017 USA Junior Presidents Cup Team.
The 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur champion shared medalist honors in the Richmond, Texas, sectional with Louisiana State University teammate Jacob Bergeron, posting 11-under 133 at Shadow Hawk Golf Club. Rallied from 5 down with eight holes to play to defeat Andrew Orischak in the 2015 Junior Amateur final in 37 holes at Colleton River Club's Dye Course. Just completed sophomore season at LSU, where he posted five top-10 finishes. Registered a 72.19 stroke average over 13 tournaments. Represented the USA in the 2015 Spirit International in Texas. Also won the 2015 American Junior Golf Association Tournament of Champions.
Will make his first U.S. Open start after shooting 6-under 137 in the Daly City, Calif., sectional at Lake Merced Golf Club and The Olympic Club's Ocean Course. Just completed his sophomore season at Brigham Young University. Will turn 20 years old on the final day of this year's U.S. Open, which also happens to be Father's Day. Tied for third at the 2018 West Coast Conference Championship. In 2015, he won the Provo Open, Salt Lake City Open and Utah Golf Association Tournament of Champions, and was named the UGA's player of the year.
The Northwestern University rising senior qualified for his first U.S. Open by enduring local qualifying at Cog Hill in Lemont, Ill., and shooting 6-under 138 in the Columbus, Ohio, sectional at The Lakes Golf & Country Club and Brookside Golf & Country Club. He was the lone amateur to advance out of the Columbus section, which features top PGA Tour players and elite amateurs. Although born in England, Lumsden now calls Scotland home. The first-team All-Big Ten selection help lead the Wildcats to the 2018 NCAA Championships at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla. Selected to play for Scotland in the 2014 Boys Home Internationals. Posted three top-five and five top-10 finishes this past season for Northwestern. Was second on the team with a 72.14 stroke average.
Qualified for his first U.S. Open via the Daly City, Calif., sectional, posting 7-under 136 at Lake Merced Golf Club and The Olympic Club's Ocean Course. He eagled his final hole, the par-5 18th at Lake Merced, to qualify. Just completed his senior season at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where he was a first-team All-American. Finished his final season with a 69.79 stroke average. Also won the 2016 California Amateur.
Qualified for his second consecutive U.S. Open, this time on the East Coast. Last year, Hagestad made it to his first U.S. Open by playing one of his two sectional rounds at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif., his home course. This year he went to Canoe Brook C.C. in Summit, N.J., and posted 6-under 137 to garner one of the five spots. He made a 12-foot birdie putt on his final hole -- No. 9 of the South Course -- to lock up the berth. In 2016, Hagestad birdied four of the last five holes at Stonewall in Elverson, Pa., in rallying to defeat 2014 champion Scott Harvey in 37 holes in the championship match of the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur. The win earned him an invitation to the 2017 Masters, where he became the first invited U.S. Mid-Amateur champion to not only make the cut, but earned low-amateur honors. He and three-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Jay Sigel are the only Mid-Am champions to achieve that feat at Augusta National. Member of the victorious 2017 USA Walker Cup Team at The Los Angeles Country Club, another venue where Hagestad is a member.
The 2017 U.S. Amateur semifinalist and Vanderbilt University first-team All-American will make his U.S. Open debut in what likely will be his final event as an amateur. The Greenwich, Conn., resident survived a 2-for-1 playoff with Mark Hoffman to garner the fifth and final qualifying spot in the Summit, N.J., sectional at Canoe Brook Country Club. Humphrey posted 5-under 137, including a 65 in the morning round on the shorter South Course. Plans to play the PGA Tour Canada after the U.S. Open. Named 2017-18 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. Posted a 69.97 stroke average, the second-lowest single-season mark in Vanderbilt history.
Qualified for his first U.S. Open out of the Springfield, Ohio, sectional, in a 3-for-2 playoff for the final spots after posting 2-under 138 over the 36-hole event at Springfield C.C. Advanced to sectional from a local qualifier in Muncie, Ind., where shot 69 at Delaware C.C. Will be a senior this fall at Ball State University. Tied for third in this year's Mid-America Conference Championship. Twice named MAC Golfer of the Week in 2018. Has made the Dean's list every semester in college.
The grandson of 1935 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Frank Strafaci survived a 6-for-1 playoff to garner the final qualifying spot from the Jupiter, Fla., sectional at The Bear's Club. Strafaci posted a 36-hole total of 3-under 141. Strafaci made a 10-foot par putt on the second extra playoff to edge Nathan Stamey. Strafaci is a rising junior at Georgia Tech. His mother, Jill, played collegiately at the University of Florida and worked in the front office of the Miami Dolphins under former owner Joe Robbie. Posted a 71.30 stroke average in his sophomore season, which included a pair of top-10 finishes in 10 events.
Qualified for a second U.S. Open by earning medalist honors at Springfield (Ohio) Country Club, shooting 5-under 135. Grimmer first qualified for an Open four years ago as a 17-year-old high school student. The Cincinnati native is now a rising senior at Ohio State University. His best finish this past season was a tie for fourth in the Big Ten Championship. Once shot a 59 on Pinehurst's Course No. 1 during the North & South Junior.