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John Cook claims late Open places

John Cook didn't win the Memorial, but he got a small consolation prize Monday -- an exemption to the U.S. Open at Bethpage and the British Open at Muirfield, where he nearly won the claret jug 10 years ago.

The world ranking published Monday was the deadline for the top 50 players to receive a free pass to both Opens.

While Cook came up two shots short of victory at Muirfield Village, rounds of 65-69 on the weekend earned him a tie for fourth at the Memorial and enabled him to climb 21 spots in the ranking, to No. 42.

Nick Faldo, meanwhile, will have to rely on a special invitation from the U.S. Golf Association or go through a 36-hole qualifier next week in order to play in his 60th consecutive major, the longest active streak in golf.

Faldo closed with a 69 in the Volvo PGA Championship and tied for fourth. He needed to finish in a tie for second to move into the top 50, but fell two strokes short. Faldo, winner of six major championships, moved up only to No. 62.

Of the four Americans on the bubble going into the Memorial, only Charles Howell III at No. 50 failed to protect his spot, and now will have to qualify.

Billy Andrade tied for ninth and moved up three spots to No. 45.

``That's why I came here,'' he said after his final-round 68. ``I've been all over the board on the rankings, and you want to get in. I love the atmosphere of the U.S. Open. And I can't stand the atmosphere of the 36-hole qualifier.''

Matt Kuchar and Len Mattiace, tied for 32nd at the Memorial, also got in. Mattiace grew up playing the Black Course at Bethpage State Park on Long Island.

Howell tied for 27th, but dropped three positions to No. 53.

Cook, an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour, has not played in a major championship since he missed the cut in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach two years ago.

His best chance at winning a major came in the 1992 British Open at Muirfield, when he led Faldo by two strokes with four holes to play. Cook missed a 2-foot birdie putt on the 17th and bogeyed the 18th, while Faldo birdied two of his last four holes to win by a stroke.


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