Patrick Rodgers watches his tee shot on the second hole of the South Course during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. AP NEWSWIRE

Patrick Rodgers watches his tee shot on the second hole of the South Course during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. AP NEWSWIRE

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The range of emotions was to be expected when some 750 players were spread across 10 cities to compete for 53 spots in the U.S. Open.

“It kills me not to be there,” Patrick Rodgers said.

“It was a tough decision,” Geoff Ogilvy said. “Obviously, that’s a tournament that means a lot to me.”

The competition is stronger than ever on the PGA Tour, and there was no doubt that that played a role in so many withdrawals in the days or weeks leading up to sectional qualifying. Roughly one-third of the players from 100th to 200th in the FedEx Cup standings were not at U.S. Open qualifying.

One of them was Ricky Barnes.

He won the U.S. Amateur in 2002. He came within a fraction of making birdie on the 18th hole at Bethpage Black in the 2009 U.S. Open that would have forced a playoff. He also has missed the cut in half of his starts this season, and while he’s showing signs of turning things around, Barnes was No. 166 in the FedEx Cup when he decided to withdraw.

“I’ve got to secure my job out here,” Barnes said.

He has not missed a tournament for which he has been eligible since January as he tries to find his game. 

The original plan was to play the U.S. Open qualifier and skip the St. Jude Classic. Instead he chose to play the St. Jude Classic, which offers FedEx Cup points, instead of a 36-hole qualifier that might get him into the U.S. Open.

“If I was in a position like 50th in the FedEx Cup, I’d play on Monday,” Barnes said. “But I need to concentrate on my year.”

Ogilvy won the U.S. Open in 2006 at Winged Foot, though his game has slipped so much in recent years that the 39-year-old Australian took a one-time exemption from the career money list to keep his full PGA Tour card for this year. It hasn’t worked out, at least not yet. He is No. 113 in the standings, with just over two more months left to stay in the top 125.

“As much as I don’t like it,” Ogilvy said of not playing the qualifier, “I still have to make sure I secure playing privileges for next year.”

Ogilvy knows better than most players how one week — two days even — can change everything. He had gone three months without finishing in the top 30 when he wanted to withdraw from the Barracuda Championship in 2014. His wife talked him into going and he won. A month later, he went 65-65 on the weekend to tie for second at the TPC Boston, and it was enough to take him all the way to the Tour Championship.

“The only way playing a U.S. Open qualifier is worth it is if you qualify and then you do well,” he said. “Everything else is hurting your year.”

For Rodgers, the U.S. Open at Erin Hills made it even tougher to miss. He reached the quarterfinals there in the 2011 U.S. Amateur. But this year has been a struggle, and he withdrew at No. 110 on the FedEx Cup.

The logic will sound familiar.

“I need to focus on playing these events because of where I am in the FedEx Cup,” Rodgers said.

So no, they won’t have a chance to win the U.S. Open because they chose not to take the chance of even trying to qualify. The majors come along only four times a year. On the other hand, only twice in the last 20 years has the U.S. Open champion come from sectional qualifying.

What were the odds?

Mark Brooks qualified for the 2006 U.S. Open and said, “I just earned a ticket to hell.” Nothing about the U.S. Open is easy, even a decision not to qualify.

“It will be weird not playing it,” Ogilvy said. “I’ve been thinking about it from early on this year when it didn’t look realistic. The only reason I could find was the romance of it. That was the only thing I could see on the side of doing it.

“But when you have a commonsense moment,” he added, “that’s not a good reason.”


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