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Golf News: - Posted 23rd January 1998

Nicklaus denied US Open exemption

Tucson, Arizona - The United States Golf Association has elected not to extend Jack Nicklaus a special exemption for the 1998 U.S. Open, possibly ending a streak of 41 consecutive Opens for the four-time U.S. Open Champion who played in his first Open in 1957. He had received five special exemptions previously, including one in 1997, where he made the cut for the 34th time.

The United States Golf Association has added a full exemption category for the U.S. Open beginning this year and increased prize money at its three open championships for the forthcoming season. The action was approved on Friday by the Executive Committee at the association's annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona.

The top twenty players in the world rankings at the conclusion of the previous year will now be fully exempt into the forthcoming U.S. Open. The move affects three players for 1998 who were not otherwise exempt -- Masashi "Jumbo" Ozaki, Tom Watson and Fred Couples. Ozaki was eighth in the 1997 year-end rankings, while Watson and Couples were ranked 19th and 20th respectively.

This will be the 27th U.S. Open for Watson, the 1982 winner; the 16th for Couples, and the 12th for Ozaki, who until this year has received an international exemption for competing in the championship.

The Executive Committee also raised the U.S. Open purse by $400,000 to $3 million, and the U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Women's Open purses by $200,000 each to $1.5 million.

In another matter, the Committee offered a special exemption for the 1998 U.S. Senior Open to two-time British Open runner-up (1973 and 1982) Peter Oosterhuis, who will become eligible with his 50th birthday in May.

Oosterhuis also was a member of six European Ryder Cup teams, led the European PGA Tour in earnings four times (1971-1974), and won the 1981 Canadian Open. The 1998 U.S. Senior Open will be played 23rd - 26th July at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif.

Additionally, the USGA Women's Committee extended special exemptions for the 1998 U.S. Women's Open to 1981 champion Pat Bradley and two-time runner-up Beth Daniel.

Bradley, who finished 56th on the final 1997 LPGA money list, has played in 24 Women's Opens, with five top-3 finishes. Daniel, who won the 1975 and 1977 U. S. Women's Amateurs, has played in 21 Women's Opens. The Women's Open will be played from 2nd - 5th July at Blackwolf Run Golf Club in Kohler, Wis.