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Michael Campebell given US Open exemption

Michael Campbell of New Zealand, who won four times on the European and Australasian tours earlier this year, was offered a special exemption today to play in the U.S. Open.

Campbell won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Taiwan in November, then captured the New Zealand Open, the Heineken Classic in Perth, Australia and the Ericcson Masters in Melbourne, Australia earlier this year.

Campbell is the sixth player to get a special exemption from the USGA, meaning he will not have to qualify. The others were Jack Nicklaus, Curtis Strange, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, and amateur Aaron Baddeley, the 1999 Australian Open champion.

It will be the first U.S. Open for Campbell, who is No. 48 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He first gained notoriety in 1995 for leading after 54 holes in the British Open at St. Andrews, finishing third behind John Daly and Costantino Rocca.

That brings to 70 the number of players who do not have to qualify for the 100th U.S. Open, to be played June 15-18 at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Five others can avoid the final stage of qualifying next week by winning the Kemper Open -- Olin Browne, Rich Beem, Brad Faxon, Kirk Triplett, and Robert Allenby. A victory this week would be their second on the PGA Tour since April 28, 1999.


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