The Top 10 Players Who Did Not Qualify for the U.S. Open

Some lifelong dreams were made a reality, while others were destroyed during sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open at Oakmont, which occurred mostly last week (the Japan and England sectionals were completed earlier).

The field is set, with the possibility of a few players getting in as alternates. The following is a list of the ten best players who have not made the field, at least as of yet:

Note: World rankings are listed in parenthesis next to the name.

10. John Senden (103) – Known as one of the most steady players on tour, the Australian has finished in the top 15 in three of the past four U.S. Opens, including a T14 at Chambers Bay last year. A pair of 73’s in the Powell (OH) sectional left Senden a mile behind in his quest to get back.

9. Paul Dunne (386) – Through 54 holes at the 2015 Open Championship, Dunne had arguably the best three rounds at a major for an amateur since the days of Bobby Jones, as he shared the lead at -12 and was in the final Sunday pairing . Now a pro, Dunne has been making his living on the European Tour. He will likely be in the field for many future U.S. Opens, but this year will not be one of them, as a second round 76 put him well off the pace at the Surrey (UK) qualifying.

Interesting question from Dunne. He will have time to watch plenty of both over the next ten days.

8. Hunter Mahan (151) – Mahan is having a terrible season: only one top-25 in 17 events and has missed over half his cuts. Despite that, he has consistently been one of the better golfers on tour over the last decade. He has played in every major since (coincidentally) the 2007 U.S. Open, and played well, racking up eight top-10s. From 2007-14, he had six victories and finished in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup Standings every year. He might not be the best player missing the U.S. Open (at least in his current form), but there is an argument to be made that he is the most surprising.

Excited to kick off my partnership with @tempurpedic this week! Make sure to support #BeyondVeteransDay !!

A photo posted by Hunter Mahan (@huntermahan) on

As a result of his recent struggles, this is how Mahan is going to see Oakmont this year.

7. Victor Dubuisson (71) – The 26-year-old Frenchman, who plays mostly on the European Tour, is most well-known in the states for taking Jason Day to a thrilling 23-holes in the championship match of the 2014 WGC-Match Play. He has two career top-10s in majors.

6. Bernhard Langer (722) – The original World #1, the 58-year-old Langer now goes full-time on the Champions Tour, which he has dominated this year. He has three victories in ten starts, and has not once finished outside the top 11. He also looks like a sure bet to finish #1 in the Schwab Cup for the FIFTH straight year, and eighth time in the last nine years. He also turned back the clock at this year’s Masters, where he was in contention after 54 holes before fading on Sunday for a T24. It almost feels wrong to put Langer on this list, since he did not make an effort to qualify (he hasn’t played in the U.S. Open since 2005), but he is still one of the most notable omissions. There is not much doubt that he would be at Oakmont if he really wanted to.

5. Gary Woodland (66) – If the WGC-Match Play had been last weekend, Woodland would qualified for that (he was #64 in the OWGR last week), but a poor performance at the Powell (OH) sectionals will keep him out of the U.S. Open. He was close to the World Top 60 qualifying cutoff, and might have made the field with a good showing at the FedEx St. Jude, but a 73-70 put him two strokes back of the cut line, an untimely missed cut that was only his second in 15 events this year.

4. Ryan Palmer (62) – Palmer has the best world ranking of anyone not in the field at Oakmont. He is a threat anywhere he tees it up, as he has made the top-25 in nearly half of his starts over the past two seasons (18 of 38 events). A decent finish at the Fed Ex St. Jude would have vaulted him into the field, but a T68 was not decent enough, as his world ranking fell two spots short of the top 60 exemption. He will be kicking himself especially hard for that Sunday 75.

Palmer did not appreciate the inference that he wasn’t trying hard to make the U.S. Open field.

He took this one a little personally as well.

3. Ian Poulter (84)- Among players who do not have a nickname that is also a large jungle cat, Ian Poulter is probably the most popular one who will not be at Oakmont. Poulter recently announced that a foot injury will sideline him for four months, meaning he will be missing the rest of the major season and the Ryder Cup. Even before the announcement, however, the major championship fixture had not yet qualified for the U.S. Open, as the injury cost him a chance to try to get in through sectional qualifying. His results have been down this year, with a T3 in Puerto Rico being his only top-25 in the U.S., while his best finish on the European Tour is a T14 in Abu Dhabi. He has not won worldwide since a two-stroke victory over Jason Dufner, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, and Scott Piercy at the 2012 WGV-HSBC Champions. Even still, Poulter has qualified for every major since missing the 2006 Masters; a streak of 40 consecutive majors.

Hopefully, it’s not his driving foot that’s holding Poulter back.

2. Tony Finau (74) – With a bomber in Angel Cabrera winning the U.S. Open the last time it was at Oakmont (although it is not considered a long course), Finau, the tour leader in driving distance, could be licking his chops… if he can find a way in. He is currently the first alternate from the Springfield (OH) sectional, so he is one of the few who still has a prayer. He is coming off a T11 at The Memorial, won the Puerto Rico Open earlier this year, and finished T14 at last year’s U.S. Open, all positive signs for his chances to compete, if the planets align for him before the tournament starts.

We won’t be seeing any of this unless Finau gets some help soon. (UPDATE: Finau has been added.)

1. Steve Stricker (171) – World ranking #171 be damned, Stricker is the best player to not make the U.S. Open field, as anyone who follows golf knows his ranking is artificially deflated by his part-time schedule. Even at 49 years old, he has one of the best short games on tour, and any player who can putt like him can compete anywhere, as we saw when he finished T2 on Sunday at the FedEx St. Jude. Unfortunately, the man who has never won a major will have to wait at least one more for his next try, as he fell just short in sectionals.

Hopefully nobody makes this mistake for the U.S. Open.

Honorable Mention (listed by World Ranking)

Matt Jones (82) – The 36-hole leader at last year’s PGA Championship, and owner of the most common name on tour, has had a rough go as of late, missing 9 of his last 12 cuts.

Jamie Lovemark (85) – In the midst of a breakout season, Lovemark has five top 10s in 19 events. He is also 32nd in the Fed Ex Cup standings, which places him third (behind Charles Howell III and Fabian Gomez) among those who did not qualify for the U.S. Open.

Troy Merritt (94) – Merritt, the defending champion of the Quicken Loans National, and second champion of the long-forgotten Kodak Challenge, has missed a lot of cuts this year (10 in 17 starts), but has occasionally flashed the form from his 2015 breakout season, like he did when he finished T3 against a very strong field at The Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Kristoffer Broberg (99) – Barney Stinson’s favorite golfer is having a mildly disappointing season on the European Tour, but has done enough to stay in the top 100. His first chance to make himself known in the states will have to wait until a future tournament.

Colt Knost (100) – Based on current form, Knost has to be very disappointed to not be at Oakmont. He has been playing the best golf of his PGA career lately, with two finishes of T4 or better in his last four events, along with a T-18 at the FedEx St. Jude.

Jonas Blixt (125) – Blixt, the Swedish putting specialist, has two career PGA victories, but has been very up-and-down since he once posted back-to-back top-5’s in majors (solo 4th at the 2013 PGA, T2 at the 2014 Masters)

Hiroshi Iwata (144) – Outside of a T4 at Pebble Beach, Iwata’s season has been nothing special. What was special, however, was the 63 he shot in the second round of the last major he played, the 2015 PGA Championship. That round tied the major championship record, but his encore will have to wait at least one more major.

Padraig Harrington (163) – A disastrous bogey-bogey finish at the Surrey (UK) sectional caused the three-time major winner to just barely miss out on the U.S. Open. He might be a shell of his 2008 self, but with so much major championship experience, he could have been one to watch.

Miguel Angel Jimenez (162) – Up until 2015, it felt like you could set your watch to The Mechanic making an appearance on the leaderboard at majors. Unfortunately, after missing seven straight major cuts since finishing solo fourth at the 2014 Masters, we might need to reluctantly accept that his time has passed. It shouldn’t be shocking to anyone if he finds a way to be competitive at a future major, but it will not be at Oakmont, as he did not qualify this year.

Camilo Villegas (259) – The past two years have been a struggle for the 34-year-old Colombian, who does not have a top 10 since his victory at the 2014 Wyndham Championship. Villegas posted a respectable T26 the last time the U.S. Open was held at Oakmont.

Beau Hossler (1571) – U.S. Open fans should already by familiar with Hossler, an amateur and the biggest name in college golf. The 21-year-old prodigy, who stars at the University of Texas, has qualified for three previous U.S. Opens, making two cuts, including a T29 as a 17-year-old. Hossler likely would have been a popular super sleeper pick at Oakmont, but a shoulder injury suffered at the NCAA Championships forced him to withdraw from sectionals.

Lee Janzen (1582) – Based strictly on play, it is not terribly surprising to see the Champions Tour member not in the field, as Janzen has only one top-ten on the PGA Tour since the start of the 2011 season (54 events). However, something feels wrong about excluding a two-time U.S. Open Champion (‘93 and ‘98). He fell four strokes short of qualifying through sectionals.

Joel Cook

Joel Cook is Pro Golf Weekly's Lead Writer. He is a member of the Golf Writer's Association of America.



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