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U.S. Open to allow ‘limited’ fans at Torrey Pines Golf Course, but tickets must be repurchased

Golfers walk along the fourth hole of the South Course during the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January.
(Denis Poroy)

All tickets will be refunded, then put on sale again to select groups starting next week.

If you bought tickets for the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, you’ll be receiving a full refund shortly.

It doesn’t mean spectators won’t be allowed at the June event. A “limited number” will, the U.S. Golf Association announced April 19.

But they’ll have to repurchase tickets starting Monday, April 26, for USGA members ($36 to join), followed two days later by people who previously bought them (but only if you used an American Express card), followed two days after that by members of the USGA’s Victory Club (which is free to join).

A USGA representative declined to define “limited,” although last week Golf Digest reported that USGA Chief Executive Mike Davis said there would be no more than 10,000 people per day on the grounds.

“We do not know what’s reasonable at this point,” said Jeff Altstadter, USGA’s director of championship communications. “We’re hopeful that we would be allowed to have more people onsite, but we’re working with health and safety guidelines at this point.”

Unlike at Padres games, in-state ticket holders at the U.S. Open will be required to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination at least two weeks before the event or a negative coronavirus test. For out-of-state fans, vaccination two weeks before will be mandatory.

“If [California residents] are unable to provide proof of vaccination or verification of testing, you will be in violation of USGA health and safety guidelines and will result in forfeiture of your tickets,” according to updated information on the USGA website.

The USGA did not specify the type of coronavirus test or how soon before the event it must be completed. At the recent Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga., a negative test was required within 72 hours for most spectators and workers, and it had to be conducted onsite. Vaccination cards were not accepted.

Currently, spectator capacities at professional sporting events in California are dictated by a county’s risk tier. San Diego is in the orange, or moderate, category, which allows up to 33 percent capacity (though it can increase to 67 percent if everyone is vaccinated or tested).

The colored tier system is scheduled to be discontinued June 15, the Tuesday of U.S. Open week. There are practice rounds Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; the four-round tournament begins Thursday, June 17, and ends Sunday, June 20.

The state’s mask mandate, however, is expected to remain in effect, limiting food service because masks can be lowered to eat or drink only if at a stationary area. That means you can’t buy a hot dog and soda and then walk around the course consuming them.

Instead, food and drink purchases will be ordered using a mobile phone app, then picked up and, according to the USGA website, “consumed while seated within designated locations.”

Another factor limiting attendance is shuttling fans from offsite parking lots. In 2008, when a record 295,000 fans attended over U.S. Open week, they parked at Qualcomm Stadium and rode packed shuttle buses to Torrey Pines.

Altstadter said a limited number of shuttles would be available to transport fans from free parking areas at UC San Diego, which is near the course. Otherwise, fans can park onsite for $35 per day or use ride-sharing services. ◆