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In hybrid year for The Open, only a few spots remaining

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The PGA Championship field will start to take shape after this week with the top 70 on a special PGA Tour money list getting into the field. For the U.S. Open, anyone not already eligible who doesn’t crack the top 60 in the world ranking can go to one of 10 final qualifying sites in America.

The British Open feels more like a closed shop this year, though not by choice.

Early summer is when the Open offers qualifying spots to top finishers at European Tour and PGA Tour events. But those aren’t available as the R&A tries to honor those who qualified for a major that was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once the top 50 in the world is determined on May 23, there are precious few spots for professionals available for Royal St. George’s on July 15-18.

There are eight qualifying spots in England. There are three spots for Japan Golf Tour events. And the R&A will take the leading five players from Europe and the PGA Tour points lists in late June provided they are among the top 20. Players also can qualify by winning the PGA Championship or U.S. Open, a slightly taller task.

The majors last year had to make adjustments to their criteria because of the pandemic. The Masters, postponed by seven months, chose to stick with its April field. The U.S. Open, postponed by three months in 2020, had to do without qualifying and came up with exemption categories that reflected a qualifying system.

The British Open was canceled.

That means the four “Open Qualifying Series” sites that were held before the pandemic are being honored. Danny Lee, Joel Dahmen and Keith Mitchell were the leading three players from the top 10 at Bay Hill a year ago in March to earn spots. They will be in the field because the Open was not played last year. Mitchell and Lee have not finished in the top 10 since that week in Bay Hill.

R&A revises qualifying for Open Championship

The R&A is revising regional and final qualifying for this summer's Open Championship at Royal St. George's.

Also in the field is those who made it to the Tour Championship in August 2019, a list that includes Lucas Glover and Chez Reavie.

“I guess it’s similar to how people feel about exemptions,” Glover said. “I earned my way in two years ago, so I should have played last year. So maybe I get to play this year.”

The R&A typically has 12 sites for its Open Qualifying Series. Last year the PGA Tour would have had such qualifiers at the Canadian Open, the Travelers Championship and the John Deere Classic. Europe lost out on sites in Germany, Ireland and Scotland.