Two past U.S. Open champions, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk, have received special exemptions into the 118th U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in June.
Els, who won the 1994 and 1997 U.S. Opens, will be making his 26th consecutive start in the championship. Furyk, the 2003 winner, will make his 24th start in the championship and his 23rd in a row.
“It’s a thrill and I’m very grateful to the USGA,” Els said. “Obviously, the U.S. Open means a lot to me. This is kind of where it all started, you might say. Winning at Oakmont at the age of 24, as I’ve said before it was almost like a shock the way it happened. I still thought I had some steps to climb to get there. Then ’97 was just a very, very special week, winning in the nation’s capital (at Congressional), and that set me up for a really great year. For me there are so many wonderful memories from U.S. Opens and it’s exciting to be able to keep that story going.”
Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open by three strokes at Olympia Fields Country Club and will get another chance to play in one of his favorite events.
“As a past U.S. Open champion, I am grateful to the USGA to accept a special exemption into the U.S. Open Championship, where the quality of the course and how it’s set up pushes me to step up my physical and mental game,” Furyk said. “Getting to play in another U.S. Open at a historic course like Shinnecock Hills really gets my competitive spirit flowing. I’ve had great success in my many trips to the U.S. Open and winning one is a highlight of my career.”
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Els and Furyk are the first players to receive special exemptions into the U.S. Open since Retief Goosen at Oakmont in 2016. Prior to Goosen, Tom Watson and Vijay Singh were awarded exemptions in 2010 at Pebble Beach. Goosen missed the 36-hole cut at Oakmont, while Watson and Singh tied for 29th and 40th, respectively, at Pebble Beach. Hale Irwin is the lone player to win the U.S. Open playing on a special exemption, doing so in a memorable 19-hole playoff over Mike Donald in 1990 at Medinah Country Club to claim his third U.S. Open title.