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Majors for the Rest of Us W


ant to play in a major? You can qualify as an amateur.


The World Amateur Golf Rank- ings classify four amateur cham- pionships as “Elite,” and those winners earn prestigious perks. The champions of the Asia-Pa-


cifi c Amateur, the U.S. Amateur, the International European Ama- teur and the British Amateur all earn exemptions into as many as three of the four majors. Here’s the breakdown of ama-


teur exemptions for the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open:


MASTERS • U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up


• British Amateur champion • U.S. Amateur Public Links champion (through 2014)


• Asia-Pacifi c Amateur champion • U.S. Mid-Amateur champion


U.S. OPEN • U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up


• British Amateur champion • Winner of the 2012 Mark H. McCormack Medal (top-ranked in World Amateur Golf Ranking)


BRITISH OPEN • U.S. Amateur champion • European Amateur champion • British Amateur champion • Winner of the 2012 Mark H. McCormack Medal


The NCGA points list heavily weights performances in events it categorizes as majors. The points list is used to determine the NCGA Player of the Year, and to populate the teams that represent the NCGA at the Han- na-Wehrman Cup, the Seaver Cup and the Pacifi c Coast Ama- teur’s Morse Cup. Here’s a breakdown of the scratch majors, which are all run by the USGA, CGA or NCGA:


MATCH PLAY EVENTS • U.S. Amateur (900 points to winner)


• CGA Amateur (700) • NCGA Amateur (700) • U.S. Mid-Amateur (500) • U.S. Public Links (500) • U.S. Junior Amateur (400)


STROKE PLAY EVENTS • NCGA Stroke Play Championship (600)


• NCGA Valley Amateur (500) • NCGA Four-Ball (500) • NCGA Public Links (300) • NCGA Master Division (300) • NCGA Master Division Four-Ball (300)


• NCGA Junior (300)


The Majors


made plain by the passage of time. But with all the Shaun Micheels and Rich Beems and Trevor Immelmans and Michael Campbells and Todd Hamiltons out there, to say nothing of the Jack Flecks, it’s important to see them in the context of a full career. The last word here must belong to Nicklaus, golf ’s greatest champion. (If/when Woods gets to 19 career majors, we can have that conversation.) Nobody knows how many Western Opens the Golden Bear won, but even casual fans are aware of his six Masters triumphs. “Augusta National doesn’t change from Wednesday to Thurs- day,” Nicklaus once said. “The course doesn’t change. All of a sudden it changes in your gut, that’s where it changes.”


ALAN SHIPNUCK is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and writes two weekly columns for golf.com.


Webb Simpson suddenly a more accomplished player than Lee Westwood or Luke Donald just because he got hot for one week- end in San Francisco? This year’s Masters provided another litmus test. Adam Scott has spent the last decade-plus winning all over the world, and rack- ing up top 10s even when


he didn’t have his A-game. Meanwhile, Angel Cabrera often seems like he’s going through the motions except four times a year. If Cabrera wins the playoff he has three majors, a lofty total exceeded only by Woods, Mickelson and Ernie Els in the post-Faldo era. But would his career really have been that much better than


Scott’s? And since Scott wiggled in a putt in near- darkness to prevail, is he suddenly that much better a player than he was when he awakened on Masters Sunday? The answer to all of these questions is yes… and no.


Majors are vastly


important, and always have been, as has been


SUMMER 2013 / NCGA.ORG / 29


Lee Westwood has fi nished in the top fi ve of a major nine times, but has no wins. Does Webb Simpson’s U.S. Open title make him a better player?


PHOTO: JOANN DOST


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