The United States Golf Association is to scrap its Amateur Public Links championships after 2014, eliminating an event that gave the men’s winner a coveted spot at The Masters.
It’s the first time the governing body for golf in the US and Mexico has ended a championship. Alumni include former Masters champion Trevor Immelman, FedEx winner Brandt Snedeker and Tim Clark.
The men’s Public Links, first played in 1922, was the USGA’s fourth-oldest event but the organisation says the events “no longer serve their original mission because of the widespread accessibility public-course golfers today enjoy in USGA championships”.
“It wasn’t without a lot of thought,” admits Tom O’Toole, chairman of the USGA’s championship committee. “We’re not in the business of cancelling championships, so this is a sombre note.”
The men’s event and the women’s event, first played in 1977, were established to give public-course golfers access to a national championship. At the time, the US Amateur Championship was restricted to the players from USGA member clubs - a rule lifted in 1979.
The final men’s tournament will be held at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kansas, with the last women’s championship at the Home Course in DuPont, Washington.
The USGA will discuss the decision to end the Public Links with officials at Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters, which traditionally gives invitations to six amateurs each year: US Amateur winner and runner-up; British Amateur champion; US Mid-Amateur champion; Asia-Pacific Amateur winner and the US Amateur Public Links winner.
In place of the Public Links, the USGA will introduce a men’s and women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championships, beginning in 2015. It will feature two-player teams competing against each other with the lowest team score winning. It will be staged annually between mid-March and late May.
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