Charlie Woods faces enormous odds in U.S. Open qualifying attempt

April 25, 2024

Charlie Woods was there for dad Tiger Woods earlier this month at the Masters. The younger Woods is attempting to qualify for the U.S. Open. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Charlie Woods, the son of golf superstar Tiger Woods, faces a massive challenge as he begins his attempt to qualify for this year’s U.S. Open on Thursday in Florida.

Woods, 15, teed off at 8:18 a.m. Eastern at a U.S. Open local qualifier being played at the Legacy Golf & Tennis Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. To advance to the final round of qualifying, he will need to finish in the top 5 out of 84 golfers at the local qualifier, one of 109 such events. To earn a spot in the U.S. Open, Woods would then need to be among the top finishers at one of the 10 U.S. sectional qualifying tournaments on May 20 or June 3. All but one of those 36-hole tournaments are held on the latter date, which has been dubbed “Golf’s Longest Day.”

Last year, only 530 players out of 9,693 (5.5 percent) advanced out of local qualifying, where they were joined in sectional qualifying by 348 players who received an exemption from the U.S. Golf Association into the sectional qualifying round. Of those 878 golfers in sectional qualifying, only 64 qualified for last year’s U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. That’s 7.3 percent.

To even be eligible to compete in a local qualifier, a golfer either needs a 0.4 handicap or better, or needs to be a professional.

Charlie Woods has been through the qualifying process before. In February, he attempted to qualify for the Cognizant Classic, a PGA Tour event. He shot a 16-over-par 86 and failed to qualify in a round that was marred by poor behavior from the fans who followed Woods around the course.

Though Woods is a long shot, someone his age advancing out of local qualifying isn’t unheard-of. Last year, 13-year-old Jaden Soong became the youngest male golfer to advance to a U.S. Open sectional qualifying after winning a playoff at his local qualifier in California (Soong finished 16 strokes off the pace at the sectional and failed to qualify for the U.S. Open).

Andy Zhang of China is the youngest player to ever qualify for the men’s U.S. Open. He was 14 in 2012 when he earned a spot in the field at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. In 2014, Lucy Li qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at the age of 11 after winning her sectional qualifier by seven strokes.

Tiger Woods, a three-time winner of the U.S. Open, currently does not have an exemption into this year’s tournament at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina, but it’s all but certain that the USGA will extend him a special exemption before the event begins on June 13.