MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Andrew Svoboda has a rooting interest in the St. Jude Classic.
Svoboda, a mini-tour player from New York who grew up at Winged Foot, is the first alternate for the U.S. Open next week at Bethpage Black. He will get into the 156-man field provided one of six PGA Tour players don’t win in Memphis.
The USGA is holding one spot for anyone who wins multiple times on the PGA Tour over the last calendar year. Richard S. Johnson, Parker McLachlin, Michael Bradley, Brian Gay, Marc Turnesa or Jerry Kelly would qualify with a victory this week.
Otherwise, Svoboda would be in the U.S. Open for the third time in the last four years. He was the second alternate last year at Torrey Pines and didn’t get in until 11 a.m. Thursday in the first round, and he wound up making the cut.
Svoboda failed to get in through 36-hole qualifying in Purchase, N.Y., but was the first alternate from that site.
The USGA doesn’t not rank its alternate based on strength-of-field in the qualifier, such as sites that have the most PGA Tour players. Before the sectional began Monday, the tour sites in Columbus, Ohio, and Memphis already were awarded an additional spot.
The U.S. Open alternate list is different from other majors.
If a player from sectional qualifying withdraws, he would be replaced by the alternate from the site where he qualified. But if an exempt player who did not have to qualify pulls out, the USGA goes to a master list of alternates.
And it’s not easy being an alternate at the U.S. Open. Unlike the other two majors with alternates, they are not allowed to play the course until they are in the tournament. They are limited to the practice range and putting green.