Jim McCabe reports on the European U.S. Open qualifier, which it turns out, sort of repeated last year's fiasco with a twist: filling the spots with American alternates! But this is also interesting:
"It's a bummer," said [Brad] Faxon, who was like many others -- perplexed by the way the USGA allocated the berths at the 15 sectionals. For instance, at Walton Heath in Surrey, England, there were a whopping nine spots available for a field of 53, meaning one in six players would succeed. At Woodmont, the odds were 1 in 3.4, with 67 competing for five. At Purchase, N.Y., where Marshfield's Geoff Sisk shot 73-67 to get through, the odds were even worse, 1 in every 19.3 (58 for 3).Just to refresh memories, last year there were supposed to be 71 players for 8 spots and they ended up with 47 for 8 spots.
Even Memphis, where PGA Tour names were at every turn of the head, the odds were slightly higher (one spot for every 6.5 players).
"I don't understand it," said Faxon, and while he wasn't going to dwell on the subject, it appears the USGA grossly overestimated how strong the Surrey site would be.
Expecting a lot of European PGA Tour players, they instead got a rash of withdrawals, a situation reminiscent to 2005 when American players withdrew by the truckload at a British Open final qualifier at Congressional CC in Washington.
"It really comes down to strength of field, but it's not an exact science," said Marty Parkes, the senior director of communications for the USGA.
The process gets reviewed annually and Parkes seemed to indicate that the Surrey numbers were more favorable than they should have been. They were, after all, almost identical to the numbers in Columbus, Ohio, (one spot for every 5.3 players) and that was a site so jammed-packed with talent it was virtually a 36-hole PGA Tour stop.
"It may be that we allocate fewer spots [to England]," he said.
Maybe it's time we drop the European qualifier?