3 THINGS
Taking Stock After Augusta April 15, 2019 By Joey Flyntz, USGA

Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Viktor Hovland finished as low amateur in the Masters, which saw four amateurs make the cut. (USGA/Chris Keane)

It didn’t take long for the golf world to start looking forward following Tiger Woods’ historic triumph Sunday afternoon at Augusta National Golf Club. Woods, a nine-time USGA champion and three-time U.S. Open winner, sealed a comeback story for the ages by winning his fifth Masters title and 15th major championship. But in the afterglow of that resonant moment in the game’s history, the golf world couldn’t help but notice the next two major championships are at Bethpage Black (PGA Championship) and Pebble Beach (U.S. Open), two sites at which Woods has won the U.S. Open – 2002 and 2000, respectively. Is Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles back in play for Woods?

That question will be answered amid high expectations this summer, but for now, here are three things to know with the Masters in the rearview mirror.

Tiger Secures Spot in Next Five U.S. Opens

A couple of years ago, Woods teeing it up this June at Pebble Beach was anything but a foregone conclusion. With a balky back and no timeline for a return, the clock was ticking on Tiger. The 10-year U.S. Open exemption that accompanied his 2008 win at Torrey Pines expired after he missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills in 2018.

Woods’ performances late last year – he finished runner-up in the PGA Championship and won the season-ending Tour Championship – earned him a place at Pebble Beach this June 13-16. Now, thanks to winning his fifth green jacket, Woods’ place in the U.S. Open is secure for another five years.

The next five U.S. Opens will be contested at Pebble Beach, Winged Foot Golf Club, Torrey Pines Golf Course, The Country Club and The Los Angeles Country Club.

U.S. Open tickets are available here.

U.S. Amateur Finalists Take Advantage of Augusta Experience

Thanks to his victory in last summer’s U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach, Viktor Hovland, of Norway, earned a spot in the Masters. The Oklahoma State University did not squander the opportunity, shooting four rounds of even par or better to earn low-amateur honors and the chance to sit with Woods and defending Masters champion Patrick Reed in Butler Cabin in the aftermath of Woods’ win.

Hovland shot rounds of 72-71-71-71–285 to finish 3 under par and edge 2019 Latin America Amateur champion Alvaro Ortiz by one stroke for low amateur. Hovland, who finished tied for 32nd in the Masters, is also exempt into the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by virtue of his U.S. Amateur victory.

UCLA golfer Devon Bling also earned a spot at Augusta, thanks to his runner-up finish in the U.S. Amateur. Highlighted by a 1-under 71 in Round 3, Bling finished 3-over 291 for the tournament to finish 55th. He also is exempt into the U.S. Open.

Hovland, Bling, Ortiz and Takumi Kanaya, of Japan, all made the cut at the Masters, the most amateurs to play the weekend since 1999.

Reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Kevin O’Connell nearly made it five amateurs inside the cutline, but a bogey on 18 on Friday put him one stroke outside the magic number. He would have become only the second player to make the cut after earning an Augusta invite by winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur (Stewart Hagestad, 2017).

New Local Rule Allows for Replacement of Damaged Club

Prior to last week’s Masters, the USGA and The R&A released a clarification to Rule 4.1b, which introduced a new Local Rule that allows players to replace a broken or significantly damaged club so long as the damage is not due to abuse of the club by the player.

Committees can adopt the Local Rule effective immediately. Under the Local Rule, a club is “broken or significantly damaged” if it meets the following conditions:

  • the shaft breaks into pieces, splinters or is bent (but not when the shaft is only dented)
  • the club face impact area is visibly deformed (but not when the club face is only scratched)
  • the clubhead is visibly and significantly deformed
  • the clubhead is detached or loose from the shaft, or
  • the grip is loose

The complete language of this new Local Rule and other clarifications can be found here.

Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at jflyntz@usga.org.

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