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US Open to add international qualification

International qualifying will be introduced for the first time for next year's U.S. Open, the United States Golf Association (USGA) said on Wednesday.

Qualifiers will be held in Europe and Asia on June 6, 2005 to make it more convenient and less expensive for overseas-based players to earn spots at the second of the year's four majors.

The USGA has asked the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and the Japan Golf Association to assist in conducting the qualifiers.

"We wish to give the skilled international golfers who have earned local exemptions a more convenient geographical opportunity to participate in U.S. Open sectional qualifying," USGA executive director David Fay said in a statement.

"Overseas qualifiers will no longer need to spend the week in the U.S. between qualifying and the start of the championship."

The USGA is following the example of the R&A, who have introduced international qualifying tournaments for the 2004 British Open.

For this year's U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, 130 international golfers who were exempt for sectional qualifying decided not to play.

Among those were seven-times European number one Colin Montgomerie and twice U.S. Masters champion Bernhard Langer, who preferred not to travel from Europe to the U.S. to play 36 holes in one day.

The 2005 U.S. Open will be played at Pinehurst Resort Country Club in North Carolina from June 16-19.

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