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Nine gain entry to US Open

Australians Geoff Ogilvy and Rod Pampling and South Africa's Rory Sabbatini were among nine players who gained late exemptions on Tuesday for next month's U.S. Open.

The trio, all winners on the 2006 PGA Tour, automatically qualified for the year's second major by staying inside the world's top 50 as of May 30.

Americans Zach Johnson and Tom Lehman, Britons Paul Casey and Darren Clarke, Australian Robert Allenby and Trevor Immelman of South Africa also earned full exemption via the latest world rankings.

The winner of this week's Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio, will also clinch an automatic U.S. Open spot, if not already exempt for the June 15-18 event, the United States Golf Association (USGA) said in a statement.

Seventy-nine players are already confirmed for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, with a further 77 places up for grabs via 13 sectional qualifiers to be held on June 5 and 6.

For the second year in a row, one of the sectional qualifiers will be played over 36 holes at Walton Heath Golf Club on the outskirts of London, England, on June 5.

Most interest will focus on Monday's sectional qualifier at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, New Jersey, where teenage prodigy Michelle Wie will attempt to become the first woman to qualify for the U.S. Open.

The 16-year-old Wie has been drawn in a strong field of 153 players, including twice major winner Mark O'Meara and 2004 European Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer, who will be battling it out for 22 spots at Winged Foot.

Japanese trio Toru Taniguchi, Keiichiro Fukabori and Tadahiro Takayama qualified for the U.S. Open in the first sectional qualifier, which was staged on Monday at Tokyo Golf Club in Sayama City, Japan.

New Zealand's Michael Campbell will defend the U.S. Open title he won last year at Pinehurst.

May 31, 2006


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