USGA moving U.S. Open qualifying to midweek, avoiding conflict with Tiger Woods’ anniversary

One of the games’ biggest paydays is not quite as well-protected as it once was.

At the U.S. Open golf tournament, officials announced a record total purse for the 36-hole qualifier in addition to the regular $2.9 million winner’s payout, and with the field for next year’s tournament down to 156 participants.

Topping that would have been tough, but the U.S. Golf Association has moved the qualifying round closer to mid-week, moving it from Wednesday to Thursday. The one-day qualifying round has traditionally been the second qualifier on the East Coast.

“We’re going to try to keep that part of the schedule [consistent] for a variety of reasons,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We just think it’s better for the players, better for our television schedule, a lot of things.”

Officials would not divulge the purse for the championship on the anniversary of Tiger Woods’ infamous 10-shot playoff loss to Rocco Mediate in 2008.

“It will be a competitive purse,” Davis said. “The participants will have a chance to win the tournament.”

The overall prize pool is up 5 percent from a year ago, when the qualifying fee was $40,000 and the final payouts totaled about $5.9 million.

The cut at Shinnecock Hills was set at 6 under and the top 54 players in the qualifier made the cut to enter the main draw.

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