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As U.S. Open nears, qualifying ramps up across the nation

As U.S. Open nears, qualifying ramps up across the nation

PALM DESERT, Calif. — It’s U.S. Open local qualifying time across the country and that means a particularly busy time in the Coachella Valley.

Of the 109 local qualifying sites across the country for the national championship, five are played in the Coachella Valley. That begins Monday with a qualifying event at Indian Ridge Country Club in Palm Desert.

In all, 444 golfers are slated at the five local sites – Indian Ridge, Andalusia Country Club, Bermuda Dunes Country Club, Classic Club and Ironwood Country Club – playing for just 25 berths into sectional qualifying in June. The U.S. Open will be played June 13-16 at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.

This year the United States Golf Association accepted 10,052 applications to play in the U.S. Open and its qualifying events. Even defending champion Wyndham Clark has to fill out an application, even though he is exempt into the main field.

Clark is one of 53 men already in the 156-player field for the championship. Those players ranged from 2024 American Express champion Nick Dunlap, who didn’t even turn pro until after his desert win in January but who has played in the Open twice already, to three-time U.S. Open winner Tiger Woods, who accepted a special exemption.

While the number of applications is just short of last year’s record of 10,187 for Los Angeles Country Club, it is just the third time the number of applications has surged to more than 10,000. That shows just how important the Open is to golfers who are willing to navigate both local and sectional qualifying for a chance to play in the championship against the best players in the world.

Who are the players who will journey to the desert in the coming days? After all, they aren’t all residents of the desert or members at the private clubs that will host the events. The truth is the golfers are a mix of what golf is in this country.

For instance, many local high school golfers will try to take their first step toward the Open at local qualifiers, including several members of the strong Palm Desert High School golf team. The players are in the middle of high school postseason, but will find a way to fit in a chance at the national championship.

Other amateurs are in the field as well, older amateurs who maybe have tried and even succeeded in advancing out of local qualifying. There is no age limit for playing in a local qualifier. The only limit is the amateur must have a handicap index no higher than 1.4.

Then of course there…


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