5 Things to Watch: 2024 U.S. Women's Open Qualifying

By David Shefter, USGA

| Apr 05, 2024 | Liberty Corner, N.J.

5 Things to Watch: 2024 U.S. Women's Open Qualifying

For 95 percent of the 1,897 competitors who filed an entry, the road to playing the 79th U.S. Women’s Open Presented by Ally at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club will begin with qualifying. Twenty-six sites will host one-day, 36-hole grueling tests with only a handful punching a ticket to compete alongside the game’s best players May 30-June 2.

With 85 players already exempt from qualifying, including eight past champions, and a few more likely to earn spots via a couple of categories between now and late May, the probability of advancing into the field from one of the qualifying sites is minute. Then again, the openness of USGA championships gives those who meet the criteria – a professional or any amateur with a Handicap Index not exceeding 2.4 – a shot to compete for the most coveted prize in women’s professional golf.

That process begins April 15 in Macero, Calif., and British Columbia, Canada, and concludes 35 days later across the pond in Germany. During that span, plenty of storylines will take shape, whether the competitors earn their Golden Ticket into the field or come up short of their ultimate goal.

Here are five storylines to follow on the qualifying road to Lancaster:

Continuing the Streak?

Eun-Hee Ji’s greatest moment as a professional came less than 90 minutes from Lancaster Country Club 15 years ago. The 37-year-old from the Republic of Korea converted a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. That moment came in just her second U.S. Women’s Open start; she tied for 42nd in her debut one year earlier at Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota.

Ji has not missed competing in a Women’s Open ever since, a streak that has now reached 16 consecutive appearances.

Two years ago, that run was in jeopardy of ending but Ji managed to win the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play in Las Vegas, Nev., days before the championship to gain the final spot in the field at Pine Needles.

But to play in a 17th consecutive U.S. Women’s Open, the LPGA Tour veteran will either have to win a sanctioned event between now and the championship, get inside the top 75 of the Rolex Rankings by May 27 or qualify. Ji is scheduled to tee it up at Soule Park Golf Club in Ojai, Calif., on April 29.

U.S. Junior National Team member Angela Zhang, seen here at Pebble Beach last July, is hoping to qualify for a second consecutive U.S. Women's Open. (USGA/Kathryn Riley)

U.S. Junior National Team member Angela Zhang, seen here at Pebble Beach last July, is hoping to qualify for a second consecutive U.S. Women's Open. (USGA/Kathryn Riley)

Junior Achievement

Two of the 10 females named to the inaugural U.S. Junior National Team by the USGA have previously competed in a U.S. Women’s Open. Chloe Kovelesky, of Boca Raton, Fla., led the 2021 field in driving distance through the first two days at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., but missed the cut. Angela Zhang, of Bellevue, Wash., also failed to make the weekend last year at Pebble Beach.

Both will lookto qualify again, along with their eight teammates. Kovelesky will play at Sugar Mill Country Club in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., on May 6, while Zhang is scheduled to play at Rainier Golf & Country Club in Seattle, Wash., on April 30.

Two players – Gianna Clemente, of Estero, Fla., and Mia Hammond, of New Albany, Ohio – have signed up for the Shannopin Country Club site in Pittsburgh, Pa., on May 7. Clemente, who won the 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball title with Avery Zweig, Monday qualified for three consecutive LPGA Tour events late last summer.

Competing at Rockwall (Texas) Golf & Country Club on April 26 are Shyla Brown, of McKinney, Texas, and Emerie Schartz, of Wichita, Kan.

Nikki Oh, of Torrance, Calif., will look to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open 31 years after her father, Ted, advanced to the U.S. Open at Baltusrol Golf Club as a 16-year-old phenom. Nikki is entered in the Soule Park Golf Club field in Ojai on April 29. Ryleigh Knaub, of Debary, Fla., will play at Bradenton (Fla.) Country Club on May 13. Scarlett Schremmer, of Birmingham, Ala., will travel north to Winchester (Mass.) Country Club on May 1, while Asterisk Talley, of Chowchilla, Calif., has signed up for the San Joaquin Country Club qualifier in Fresno, Calif., on April 30.

Bella’s Back

A year ago, 9-year-old Bella Simoes, a native of Brazil who now resides in south Florida, made national headlines when she attempted to qualify for the championship. Simoes posted rounds of 85-82 at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Fla. This year, Simoes will make another attempt at becoming the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women’s Open history.

Fellow Floridian and now major champion Lexi Thompson set the bar in 2007 when she surpassed another Floridian, Morgan Pressel, as the youngest qualifier. That mark was surpassed seven years later by 11-year-old Californian Lucy Li.

Simoes, who doesn’t turn 11 until August, would be a full year younger than Li should she qualify at The Club at Admiral’s Cove in Jupiter Hills, Fla., on May 10.

Jackie Rogowicz, who won the 2022 Pennsylvania Women's Amateur at Lancaster C.C., enjoyed a run to the 2023 U.S. Women's Mid-Am semifinals at Stonewall not far from her Yardley, Pa., home. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

Jackie Rogowicz, who won the 2022 Pennsylvania Women's Amateur at Lancaster C.C., enjoyed a run to the 2023 U.S. Women's Mid-Am semifinals at Stonewall not far from her Yardley, Pa., home. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

Local Flavor

The only qualifier being held in the Keystone State is on May 7 at Shannopin Country Club in Pittsburgh, which is nearly four hours from Lancaster Country Club. Sixteen players who reside in Pennsylvania are entered, including 17-year-old amateur Elle Overly, of Lititz, a junior at Warwick High School just 20 minutes north of the club. She won the Lancaster-Lebanon League last fall and finished ninth in the state Class 3A finals.

Julianne Lee, 24, of York, Pa., which is 25 miles from the club, will play in the Alexandria, Va., qualifier on April 25. Jackie Rogowicz, 26, of Yardley, Pa. (nearly 100 miles east of the club), a semifinalist in last year’s U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, has signed up for the May 13 qualifier at Haworth (N.J.) Country Club. She won the 2022 Pennsylvania Women's Amateur at Lancaster C.C.

Thianna Gooneratne, 16, of Plymouth Meeting, Pa. (70 miles east of Lancaster), who won the 2023 PIAA 3A state title, will also play at Haworth C.C., along with Penn State junior Michelle Cox, of Allentown, Pa., which is 90 minutes from the club.

A pair of African-American sisters from Phoenixville, Pa. (60 miles east of Lancaster), Kate (17) and Kayley (15) Roberts are headed to Alexandria, Va.

There is also a player from Lancaster in the Shanopin qualifier. But Allie White, a professional, hails from the city in Ohio, not Pennsylvania. White has qualified for a pair of U.S. Women’s Open in 2021 and 2009 (T-65 at Saucon Valley).

Last Chance

The final qualifier at the Golf & Country Club Seddiner in Michendorf, Germany on May 20 is slated to start just 10 days before the championship. Those handful of players who qualify won’t have much time to fly to the U.S. and start preparations. The field does have a couple of interesting players, including 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Maria Jose Uribe, of Colombia, who recently won a Ladies European Tour event in Australia. The former UCLA All-American was the low amateur in the 2008 championship at Interlachen Country Club.

Another name to watch is another ex-UCLA star, Bronte Law, of England, one of three players to go 5-0-0 in the Curtis Cup since the Match went to a three-day format in 2008. Law led Great Britain and Ireland to its last triumph in 2016, and tied for sixth in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles.

One other notable in that field is Sandra Galof Germany — the 2011 Kia Classic champion who finished third in the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run. It’s her only top 10 in 56 major-championship starts.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.