PALM HARBOR, Fla. – A recent tweak to the list of U.S. Open exemptions brings a smile to Patton Kizzire’s face, even if it won’t benefit him this time around.
The USGA has restored an old rule that offers a U.S. Open exemption to any player who wins multiple full-FedExCup point events in the year leading up to the event. A multiple-win exemption was previously offered to players until 2012, when the organization instead opted to exempt the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking the month before the tournament.
The specifics received some attention last season, when Kizzire won his maiden PGA Tour event at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November 2017 and added the Sony Open title two months later. He reached as high as No. 51 in the world rankings, but his form largely dried up after leaving Waialae. When the world ranking cutoff came around he had dropped to 63rd, and he also missed a spot at Shinnecock by a shot at sectional qualifying.
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The new rule means that in addition to the top 60 in the world, a player that pulled off a double-dip like Kizzire did last season would also be exempt.
“Well, I’m glad I could help somebody out for the future,” Kizzire said Wednesday at the Valspar Championship. “Unfortunately it didn’t happen before that was my situation, but you don’t really realize that there are loopholes until somebody’s in one.”
Kizzire is still searching for some consistency, with just one top-10 finish since that Sony victory 14 months ago, and he’s now down to 94th in the world rankings. But because he qualified for last year’s Tour Championship he has spots in each of the first three majors this year, meaning that he won’t be returning to sectionals this summer.
Kizzire explained that he didn’t have any direct contact with the USGA regarding his situation last year, but he called the added exemption “a good change.”
“Honestly I didn’t feel like I deserved to play in the U.S. Open because I didn’t play well enough to qualify. If you win twice in one season, you should be able to qualify yourself,” he said. “I think there are a few people that expressed their feelings [to the USGA] about it. They took that for what it’s worth and made some changes. I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it because I didn’t play well enough to qualify.”