The Loop

Smile, Retief! You just got a RARE free pass into the U.S. Open

May 18, 2016

Good news for Retief Goosen fans. Your man is back in the U.S. Open. And good news for Retief Goosen. You don't have to worry about qualifying for the event.

On Tuesday, the USGA announced it had given a special exemption into the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. Goosen is a two-time U.S. Open champ, winning in 2001 at Southern Hills and in 2004 at Shinnecock. Goosen is the first player to receive such an exemption since 2010, when the USGA gave Vijay Singh and Tom Watson spots in the field at Pebble Beach.

“I am incredibly grateful to receive a special exemption into the 2016 U.S. Open,” Goosen said. “It is, of course, a very special championship for me, having managed to win it twice and I am delighted to know that I will be in the field again this year.”

Goosen is probably just as happy about not having to go through qualifying again. With his 10-year exemption for winning the event running out last year, Goosen managed to make it through a Memphis qualifier, but missed the cut at Chambers Bay. Before 2010, Nick Price was the last player to receive a special exemption in 2005.

This is a nice nod by the USGA to one of 18 players to ever win its biggest event two times, but Goosen won't just be making a ceremonial appearance. The 47-year-old South African has made 10 consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour and is coming off a T-12 at the Players.

More good news for Goosen? Players receiving special exemptions usually fare well in that year's U.S. Open. The past three players to be given it made the cut, including Price finishing T-9 at Pinehurst in 2005. And Hale Irwin even won the tournament for a third time in 1990 after being given a free pass by the USGA. That's a lofty goal, but at least, Goosen will have a chance to do the same.