Golf Today Home Page All the latest golf news Coverage of all the worlds major tours For all your golfing needs Golf Course Directory Out on the course Golf related travel Whats going on
Worldwide Feature Articles

Golf News: - Posted 17th March 1998

USGA grants Nicklaus Open exemption

Far Hills, N.J., - Four-time U.S. Open champion Jack Nicklaus and 1987 U.S. Open champion Scott Simpson have been offered special exemptions into the 1998 U.S. Open, scheduled June 18-21, at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., as announced by the United States Golf Association. Nicklaus also received additional exemptions for the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2000, which will be conducted at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort & Country Club and Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, respectively.

Nicklaus has played in a record 41 consecutive U.S. Opens, dating back to his first one in 1957 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, as an amateur. The 58-year-old Nicklaus also holds the Open record for cuts made, which he increased to 34 by finishing tied for 52nd place at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., in 1997. Nicklaus has played in 145 consecutive majors and 153 consecutive majors for which he has been eligible.

"I can't imagine a more fitting way for the USGA to honor the greatest player of his generation, and arguably, the greatest player of all time," said USGA President Buzz Taylor.

Simpson, 43, of San Diego, Calif., won the 1987 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club by outlasting Tom Watson by one stroke, earning a 10-year full exemption for the championship. That exemption expired with the conclusion of the 1997 Open at Congressional Country Club.

"I am grateful to the USGA for this invitation and its faith in me as a past champion," said Simpson in accepting the exemption. "I am excited about getting back to The Olympic Club. It's one of my favorite golf courses, and I have fond memories. I birdied three of the last five holes on the last day in the 1987 Open, so I'm hoping I can pick up right where I left off."

Simpson has four top-10 finishes and 10 top-25 finishes in 18 past U.S. Open appearances. He is a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the 1998 Buick Invitational.

Additionally, the USGA Executive Committee voted to add an exemption category for the U.S. Senior Open effective immediately. Any player exempt for the U.S. Open, who is also age eligible for the U.S. Senior Open, automatically receives an exemption to the Senior Open. Masashi "Jumbo" Ozaki, 51, of Chiba, Japan, now is exempt for the 1998 Senior Open under this category, as he is already exempt for the U.S. Open.

With his victories in 1962, 1967, 1972 and 1980, Nicklaus is one of only four players to have won the U.S. Open four times. The others are Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan. He also established the record low score in a U.S. Open at 272, when he won at Baltusrol (N.J.) Golf Club in 1980, a mark later tied by Lee Janzen in 1993 at the same course. In 41 Opens played, Nicklaus has established records for total rounds played (152), number of four-round scores under par (7), rounds in the 60s (29), rounds under par (37), top-25 finishes (22), top-10 finishes (18), and top-three finishes (9).

Nicklaus is one of four players, including Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Gary Player, to have won the U.S. Open, the British Open, the PGA Championship and the Masters. Additionally, only Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have won the U.S. Open, the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Amateur. Nicklaus has played in two previous U.S. Opens at The Olympic Club. In 1966, Nicklaus finished in third place behind Billy Casper and Arnold Palmer, and in 1987, he tied for 46th place. These are the sixth, seventh and eighth special exemptions offered to Nicklaus. The others were offered in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997.