Around the Green
The latest golf-related news, notes, and feature stories from the TGA.
USGA Exemptions on the line at TGA Championships in 2024
ADDISON – Beginning in 2024, the United States Golf Association (USGA) will be making significant changes to qualifying for four of their most prestigious championships: the U.S. Amateur, the U.S. Women’s Amateur, the U.S. Junior Amateur, and the U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Included in those changes are exemptions for future champions of some notable TGA and LJT tournaments next year. The Texas Amateur and Women’s Texas Amateur champions will earn exemptions into the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur. On the Legends Junior Tour, the winners of the Texas Junior Amateur Boys 15-18 Division and Girls 15-18 Division will earn exemptions into the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior.
The aforementioned TGA and LJT Championships have long been considered some of the most elite amateur tournaments in the nation. Adding USGA exemptions is only going to make them even better.
“Champions of TGA events have historically had success on the national stage,” said John Cochran IV, TGA Director of Competition, South Texas. “For our champions to now earn an exemption into some of the USGA’s most historic championships is exciting.”
Along with the addition of new exemption categories, the USGA is making a significant revision to U.S. Amateur Qualifying for next year. It will change from a one-stage, 36-holes-in-a-day to two stages of qualifying at 18 holes each, with 45 Local Qualifying sites feeding 19 Final Qualifying sites.
Two of the U.S. Amateur Final Qualifying sites will be in Texas with one taking place at Deerwood Club in Houston and the other at a to-be-announced site in Dallas.
According to the USGA, all events will be evaluated each fall for the following year, utilizing the three-year rolling average of their World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR) power ranking. Thus, events which become WAGR ranked in 2024 will have the option to meet the respective threshold for an exemption into 2025 USGA championships.
Over the past three years, the TGA proudly boasts the third highest WAGR-ranked state amateur, third highest women’s state amateur, fourth highest boys junior state amateur, and the highest ranked girls junior state amateur in the nation.
“This new change will add another layer of intensity to our championships,” Cochran said. “Now, players will not only be competing to etch their name in Texas golf history, but also for a chance to represent the state on a national level. It will make winning one of these four championships that much sweeter.”
This year, two of our past three Texas Amateur champions qualified for the U.S. Amateur. Reigning champion Bret Gray nearly made it three for three but ultimately lost in a playoff and earned first alternate. 2020 Women’s Texas Amateur champion Bentley Cotton qualified and advanced to match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. 2021 Texas Junior Amateur Boy’s champion Aaron Pounds qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur.
These are just a few recent examples of how our champions were already earning their way to USGA Championships.
By winning the 2023 Texas Amateur, Gray is exempt from local qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Amateur. The winner of the 2024 Texas Amateur will not only earn an exemption into the 2024 U.S. Amateur but will also be exempt from local qualifying for the 2025 U.S. Amateur as well.
With the newly announced exemptions, it’s a surefire way that our TGA champions will be represented on the biggest stages in amateur golf. We also anticipate our field strength in these already strong events to increase due to the elevated reward that will come with winning them.
For more information on the USGA’s changes to qualifying, click here.