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Faldo & Irwin get US Open invites

Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters and Open champion, received a special exemption Wednesday to play in the U.S. Open.

Faldo was not exempt for the U.S. Open for the first time since 1987, and was not optimistic that the U.S. Golf Association would give him a free pass to Bethpage State Park in New York.

He joins three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin as the only players to receive special exemptions to the Open, which will be played June 13-16 on the Black Course at Bethpage.

``I am absolutely delighted and am very much looking forward to playing at Bethpage,'' Faldo said. ``Hopefully, I will have a great week, repaying the USGA by putting their invite to good use.''

Faldo, who has six top-15 finishes this year, will be playing in his 60th consecutive major, the longest active streak in golf. It began with his first victory in a major, the 1987 British Open at Muirfield, where he made 18 pars in the final round.

He previously received a special exemption for the PGA Championship, and can play the British Open and the Masters until he is 65.

Faldo has four top 10s in the U.S. Open, his best finish coming in 1988 when he lost in a playoff to Curtis Strange.

The U.S. Open now has 75 players who are exempt, meaning 81 spots will be up for grabs during the final stage of qualifying next week at 12 sites around the country.

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