The U.S. Amateur features a field of 312 players, most of whom get in via 36 holes of qualifying. However, 68 players earned places through performances in past U.S. Amateurs and other events, or via their World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®). The WAGR exemption was employed for the first time in the U.S. Amateur in 2012, the last time it was played here at Cherry Hills Country Club, when the top 50 earned exemptions (since expanded to 75). The exemption assures that top international players – who would otherwise need to make a costly trip to the U.S. to compete in a qualifier – are assured of a berth.
Yuta Sigiura, 21, who led Japan to the Asia-Pacific Amateur Team title last fall, is No. 16 in the WAGR and is competing this week thanks to the exemption. The WAGR is administered jointly by the USGA and The R&A. The change in 2012 had an immediate impact on the international nature of the field. In its second year, the four semifinalists in the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., were all international players for the first and only time. They included eventual champion Matt Fitzpatrick, of England, nine years before he won the U.S. Open there.