UF Men’s Golf: Castillo Secures Spot with Exemption in 2020 U.S. Open

Courtesy of UF Athletic Association

The rising sophomore and second ranked amateur golfer in the world has earned exemption into the prestigious United States Open Championship.

 Ricky Castillo, the second highest ranked amateur golfer, according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), has earned exemption into the 2020 U.S. Open field.

The U.S. Open, hosted by the United States Golf Association (USGA), is one of four major championships, joining the Masters, the PGA Championship, and The Open Championship. This group of four comprises the most prestigious annual tournaments in professional golf.

Under normal circumstances, amateurs have six different avenues for exemption into the championship. Full exemptions are given out to the winner and runner-up from the previous year’s U.S. Amateur, as well as the winners of the previous year’s U.S. Junior Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur, Amateur Championship conducted by The R&A, and the Mark H. McCormack Medal winner. Those who aren’t fully exempt must qualify through both local and sectional qualifying stages.

Due to COVID-19, the USGA was forced to conduct the championship without any qualifying and put together a 144-player field comprised entirely of golfers who secured their spot through a number of exemptions. For amateurs, exemptions were still given to the 2019 winner and runner-up of the U.S. Amateur, as well as the 2019 winners from the previously listed tournaments. In lieu of qualifying tournaments, the USGA extended invitations to the top seven ranked players not otherwise exempt from the August 19, 2020 World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Ricky Castillo, touting the second highest amateur ranking in the world, will join 12 other competitors as representatives of amateur golf in the 144-player field at the 2020 U.S. Open.

Castillo, the second Florida golfer to be named a finalist for the Ben Hogan Award, is coming off of a freshman season that includes the number one single-season scoring average in program history (70.08), SEC Freshman of the Year honors, and the NCAA Division I Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award. He most recently advanced to the semifinal round of the Western Amateur for the second year in a row before falling in 21 holes of match play to eventual runner-up Rasmus Neergaard-Peterson.

The rising sophomore becomes the 14th Florida Gator who has qualified for the U.S. Open while remaining an amateur and will join Gator alums Billy Horschel and Sam Horsfield in the 2020 field. Horschel clinched his spot in the championship as one of the top 70 point leaders from Week 11 (March 15, 2020) of the Official World Golf Ranking. Horsfield, who competes on the European Tour, earned exemption as the leader in the UK Swing Order of Merit after clinching two tournament titles in his past three events.

The 120th U.S. Open Championship, originally scheduled for June 18-21, was postponed to September 17-20 due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and will be played without fans. Players will have three practice rounds beginning on September 14 before play officially begins on the 17th at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.