The US Open will be held with limited spectators and without qualifying this year, the United States Golf Association has announced, with the field "filled entirely through exemptions."
Golfers who are exempt from qualifying competitions include those who have won the tournament in the last decade and top-10 finishers from the tournament's previous year, for example, or those who qualify through a special exemption set by the USGA.
The tournament was postponed to 17-20 September from its original June date at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, as the coronavirus outbreak rattled the world of professional sports and shredded the golf calendar.
Mamaroneck is just 22 miles outside New York City in the US state that has suffered worst during the pandemic with 347,000 confirmed cases and 28,000 deaths.
Thousands of players in the US and around the world typically attempt to qualify but the USGA said that while the tournament was moving forward, qualifying was "not viable" due to safety concerns.
"This was an incredibly difficult decision, as qualifying is a cornerstone of USGA championships," said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships for the USGA. "But this structure provides the best path forward for us to conduct these championships in 2020."
The tournament is also expected to ban or severely restrict fans after confirming the number of volunteers present will fall from around 6,000 to 200. The number of people allowed on-course daily will fall from approx 40,000 to 2,000.
"Most of the volunteers at our qualifying and championships are of an age demographic that is at high risk," Bodenhamer said.
"We know with the U.S. Open it's going to be significantly scaled back. We are trying to get our numbers as low as possible to get the necessary approvals to play. Whatever we’re permitted to do by governments, we will build on that."
Live golf is slowly returning to action since the Covid-19 outbreak sent players and fans into lockdown, with the PGA Tour set to resume next month.
A two-on-two charity skins match between world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff on Sunday provided a rare dose of normalcy for golfers and fans alike, with the more than four-hour-long broadcast raising upward of $5.5 million for COVID-19 relief.