This is one of the most important weeks of the year for the world of golf. The 121st edition of US Open, the United States Open, which will begin this Thursday in California, when 156 dreams will be launched.
There will be time to get into the details of this Torrey Pines court and who are the favorites or the surprises for this opportunity, but I think it is worth understanding the why of the word “open” and the scope of it. .
Every year the United States Golf Association (USGA) opens registration for the US Open, which this time closed on April 21. A total of 9069 entries were received to try to play the championship, and each of them paid $ 200. Professionals and amateurs can sign up here, the latter with a handicap no greater than 1.4. As a curious fact, the oldest to fill out the form was a 74-year-old man and the youngest one of 11.
Before I told you that only 156 start the championship on Thursday and in that number there are 89 who entered directly, without having to go through the qualifications. These come because of their location in the world rankings, for having won one of the other 3 great championships in the last 5 years, the US Open in the last 10, etc. This means that the remaining 8,980 entries had to fight for the remaining 77 places.
To do this filter, the USGA organizes the Local Qualys calls to 18 holes in 108 different places of the country, between the end of April and the middle of May. When you send the registration, you can choose where and on what date to play, in addition to clarifying which place you choose for the Final Qualy if you manage to pass that first stage. It is common that in this first phase there are around 90 players in each place and that only 4 or 5 go to the second stage. In this last part, those who come from the first phase plus the tour players who are exempt in 11 different places, in what is one of the toughest days in golf come together. There are 36 holes in a single day and there are defined the 77 places that complete the field.
Phil Mickelson practices at Torrey Pines, prior to the US Open. Photo: Michael Madrid – USA TODAY Sports.
This happened on Monday June 7 and there for example Fabian Gomez He managed to enter the US Open by achieving one of the 6 places given by the field where he chose to play. This is the concept of the word “Open”, since like its pair on the other side of the Atlantic, it gives anyone the possibility to fulfill the dream of playing the US Open. In the Masters it is only played by invitation and in the PGA Championship there is no place for amateurs. Here it is different.
We are now going to locate ourselves. Torrey Pines South Court will host the US Open for the second time. Opened in 1957, the complex has two 18-hole courses that are owned and managed by the City of San Diego.
Both were built on land where an American army installation was located in World War II, and which after the end of the conflict was dismantled. The city decided that having two good golf courses could be a good idea and this is how this place was born, which since 1960 has hosted the PGA Tour at the end of January.
The US Open rotates through different places in the United States and historically private clubs were the ones that hosted the championship, but all that began to change at the beginning of this century. In the mid-90s David Fay, CEO of the USGA, had the idea of bringing the US Open to public fields and received a call from a friend suggesting that he visit a public park on Long Island. There is Bethpage Park, a complex managed by the city with 5 golf courses.
The Chaco Fabián Gómez was one of the almost 9 thousand registered to play the US Open and ended up taking one of the 77 vacant places. Photo: Carmen Mandato / Getty Images / AFP.
After Fay’s visit to the site, he was able to convince the USGA board of directors to take the championship to the Black field. The USGA put a lot of money to renovate the field on the condition that the municipality could not increase the green fee to the people for the next 10 years. Thus, the US Open reached the first truly public court in 2002 and Bethpage Black was a resounding success. So much so that the championship returned in 2009, in 2019 the PGA Championship was played and for 2025 the Ryder Cup is scheduled.
In the United States there are many municipal and public courts. The difference between the two is that the former are administered by the city while the others are privately owned. Thus, Pebble Beach, which has received the US Open several times, is public, but to play there you have to pay 600 dollars, while in the municipal ones it is rare that it exceeds 80. Torrey Pines falls into the first category and the right to Playing for San Diego residents ranges from $ 60 to $ 80, depending on the day of the week. The queue that forms the night before to get a time to play is eternal and many people spend the night there in the car so as not to miss their turn and be able to reserve a place for the next day. Just to complete this, it is good to know that 73% of the fields in the United States are public and that the average value of the green fee is 36 dollars.
This is the US Open. The most demanding test in golf. Torrey Pines and her 7652 yards await the dream of 156 golfers. 13 years ago, Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate in a tiebreaker to win his third US Open at this very venue. This year you will see it on television like most golfers in the world, but the memory of that last putt on the 72nd hole will be seen hundreds of times. There is little left to know who will lift the trophy, this time in Torrey Pines.
In June 2008, Tiger Woods forced a playoff by making a historic birdie on the 18th hole at Torrey Pines. Then he would take the US Open by beating Rocco Mediate. Photo: AP Photo / Chris O’Meara.