Ferguson On British Open Qualifiers

AP's Doug Ferguson compares the British and U.S. Open qualifiers and clearly isn't too impressed that only 12 spots go to qualifyings in England.
When the dust settles, only about 56 spots are awarded to those who compete in 36-hole qualifiers - 44 of those going to "International Final Qualifying" held in Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States.

"We feel we have a good balance, in particular a good international balance," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said. "Our exemption criteria covers overseas tours that the U.S. Open doesn't. We believe we're reaching out to the players."

The U.S. Open now has overseas qualifying in Japan (three spots available) and Europe (eight spots). Michael Campbell came out of the European qualifier before winning last year at Pinehurst No. 2, and he might not have come to America to try for a spot in the field.

USGA executive director David Fay considered adding more spots overseas, but didn't want the U.S. Open to become a closed shop.

"You run up against numbers," Fay said last week at Newport Country Club. "They (British Open) get 2,100 or 2,200 entries. We're pushing 9,000 entries. We want to retain the openness of the Open. We have more than half the field come through qualifying."

Almost half, anyway. The U.S. Open field included 76 players who had to qualify, including 26 who went through 18-hole local qualifying and 36-hole sectional qualifying. That amounts to 49 per cent of its field.

The British Open will end up with only 56 players from 36-hole qualifiers, or 36 per cent of the field.

"We think we run the most democratic golf tournament in the world," Fay said. "If you have the ability, you can give it a shot."