The U.S. Golf Association won’t stage its Amateur Public Links championships after 2014, eliminating an event that gave the men’s winner a spot in the annual Masters Tournament. It’s the first time the governing body for golf in the U.S. and Mexico has ended a championship.
Both the men’s and women’s Amateur Public Links events will be dropped, the USGA said in a statement. The men’s Public Links, first played in 1922, was the USGA’s fourth-oldest event.
The Far Hills, New Jersey-based group said it’s eliminating the tournaments because they “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,” Tom O’Toole, chairman of the USGA’s championship committee, said in an interview on the Golf Channel. “We’re not in the business of canceling championships, so this is a somber 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 U.S. Amateur Championship was restricted to the players from USGA member clubs. That rule was lifted in 1979.
Many current U.S. PGA Tour players were Public Links champions, including Brandt Snedeker, who captured the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am yesterday, and 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman.
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 said it hasn’t discussed the decision to end the Public Links with officials at Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters. Steve Ethun, a spokesman for the tournament, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the move.
The USGA also announced the creation of new men’s and women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championships, beginning in 2015. The event, which features two-player teams competing against each other with the lowest team score winning, will be staged annually between mid-March and late May
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