Koepka Headlines 2019 U.S. Open Exemptions
April 25, 2019 By Brian DePasquale, USGA

Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka headlines the list of 50 exempt golfers into the 119th U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, June 13-16, 2019. The USGA has accepted a total of 9,125 entries for the championship, which will be held at Pebble Beach for the sixth time.

Koepka, who became only the seventh player to win consecutive U.S. Opens with his victories in 2017 and 2018, will seek to become just the second man to win three consecutive U.S. Opens, joining Willie Anderson, who claimed the 1903, 1904 and 1905 championships.

The USGA has also awarded a special exemption into the 119th U.S. Open to two-time champion Ernie Els, of South Africa. Els, 49, won the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club and the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, in Bethesda, Md. Els, who also received a special exemption last year, is one of 19 players to win multiple U.S. Opens and was the first international player to accomplish the feat since Alex Smith in 1910.

Joining Koepka, Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008), Graeme McDowell (2010) and Els are seven other U.S. Open champions who are fully exempt from having to qualify: Lucas Glover (2009), Dustin Johnson (2016), Martin Kaymer (2014), Rory McIlroy (2011), Justin Rose (2013), Webb Simpson (2012) and Jordan Spieth (2015).

More than 9,000 U.S. Open entries were received for the eighth consecutive year and the 11th time overall. The USGA accepted entries for the 2019 U.S. Open from golfers in all 50 states, including 1,286 from California, as well as the District of Columbia and 77 foreign countries.

“Worldwide interest in competing in the U.S. Open Championship remains keen and contributes to a strong and competitive field,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Championships. “We look forward to conducting local and sectional qualifying, which is an open and democratic process and unique in major championship golf, and to hosting the U.S. Open at iconic Pebble Beach.”

Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted the U.S. Open in five consecutive decades and the 119th edition will be the 13th USGA championship to be conducted at the resort. In 1972, Jack Nicklaus won the third of his record-tying four U.S. Opens. Tom Watson and Tom Kite each holed celebrated final-round birdie chip-ins en route to winning their lone U.S. Open titles in 1982 and 1992, respectively. In 2000, Woods won the first of his three U.S. Opens with a historic 15-stroke triumph, and McDowell became the first European in 40 years to win the U.S. Open in 2010.

To be eligible, a player must have a Handicap Index® not exceeding 1.4, or be a professional. Local qualifying, which will be played over 18 holes at 109 sites in the United States and one in Canada, will take place between April 29-May 13.

Sectional qualifying, played over 36 holes, will be conducted at eight U.S. sites in the states of California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Ohio and Washington on Monday, June 3, and one site in Texas on Monday, May 20. For the 15th consecutive year, Japan and England will host international sectional qualifying, scheduled for May 27 and June 3, respectively. A sectional qualifier will be contested for the first time in Canada on June 3.

The USGA received 448 entries on the last day applications were accepted (April 24), including 81 applications in the final hour. Joshua O’Hearn, a 22-year-old professional from Wentzville, Mo., submitted his entry just 46 seconds before the deadline of 5 p.m. EDT. Bruce Doucett, a 30-year-old professional from Coto de Caza, Calif., was the first entrant on Feb. 20.

The number of fully exempt players will increase with the inclusion of the top 60 point leaders and ties from the Official World Golf Ranking®, as of May 20 and June 10. The winner of the PGA Championship (May 16-19) and any multiple winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship will also earn exemptions.

For more information about sectional qualifying, click here.

The full list of exempt players can be found here.