WACO — Alex Johnson is a local golf pro who was getting set to try and qualify for the US Open, when the United State Golf Association canceled qualifying for the first time since 1924 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year over 9,000 players applied for local qualifiers around the country with 78 of them making the field at Pebble Beach in 2019. Each year qualifiers make up about half of the US Open Field.
After Johnson’s May 4th local qualifier was postponed he cut back on his preparations because many local golf courses were closed but just as he was working back to his tournament form, the USGA blew the horn on qualifying.
“I was kind of gearing everything towards May 4th And then when they got canceled I kind of just relaxed a little bit wasn’t really doing a whole lot,” he said. “Usually, for me it’s a short game and putting needs to tune up but I was kind of in the stages of starting to ramp it back up.”
By it’s nature the US Open is open to pretty much anyone as long as they are a professional or an amateur who has a handicap of 1.4 or lower. Johnson who is an assistant golf professional at Ridgewood Country Club, in Waco was in prime position getting to play his local qualifier on his home turf.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. “Especially since the one here in Waco [The Qualifier] was supposed to be at Ridgewood, so I figured that was kind of the best chance that we were going to have for a while, to kind of get through, so disappointed but I get it.”
So with Winged Foot off the table, Johnson will go back to work preparing for Torrey Pines and the 2021 US Open.
“I tell my students every year set goals, even if they’re not super realistic,” he said. “My goal every year is to win the US Open. I’ve made it past local qualifying once, so I know that I can do it. I’m still looking for my first US Open chance. So, Yeah, 2021 I’ll get back at it.”