BETHESDA, Md. -- Erik Compton's runner-up finish in the U.S. Open should be enough to get him into the next major championship.
With only two weeks remaining in Open Championship qualifying, there will not be enough players to fill the 156-man field at Royal Liverpool. The R&A then turns to an alternate list that is almost certain to accommodate Compton, the two-time heart transplant recipient who is having his best year.
The alternate list is based on next week's world ranking.
With at least 12 spots available, Compton currently is No. 4 on the list and unlikely to fall much further.
Others closing in on spot, based on this week's ranking, are Kevin Stadler, J.B. Holmes, K.J. Choi, Charles Howell III and Brooks Koepka, who tied for fourth at the U.S. Open. Freddie Jacobson currently is at No. 8. The Swede squandered a chance to earn one of four spots available to top finishers Sunday in the Quicken Loans National.
As of Monday, 121 players who intend to compete July 17-20 at Royal Liverpool are exempt or have qualified. There are 12 spots available Tuesday at four British links in local final qualifying. Eleven spots have been set aside for leading players in the next two PGA Tour and European Tour events.
That would put the field at 144 players.
The Open Championship changed its international qualifying this year, eliminating the 36-hole qualifiers in Europe and America and offering spots to top players in tour events.
Even so, that doesn't appear to be the reason for the shortfall.
Several players have qualified in more than one category. Some examples:
- Martin Kaymer was exempt as top 50 in the world and from winning The Players Championship and U.S. Open this year, and the PGA Championship in 2010.
- The winners of the BMW PGA Championship on the Europe Tour and The Players Championship on the PGA Tour are exempt for three years. All were already eligible -- Luke Donald, Matteo Manassero and Rory McIlroy in Europe, and Kaymer, Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar on the PGA Tour.
- John Senden and George Coetzee each earned spots from International Final Qualifying in Africa and Australia in the start of the year. Both later became exempt in other category (top 50 for Senden, top 20 in the Race to Dubai for Coetzee).
- Matthew Fitzpatrick was exempt in two spots as the U.S. Amateur champion and the No. 1 player in the world amateur ranking. He gave up those spots by turning pro.
This will be the second straight year The Open Championship takes at least 10 players from the alternate list.
And sometimes, it works the other way around. Two years ago, The Open Championship essentially was overbooked because more players were exempt than officials anticipated. There were 160 players eligible at one point in 2012 until four players eventually withdrew for various reasons.
Even if they had not, Britain has enough daylight in the summer that the R&A simply would have added another tee time.