Tiger Woods accepts special exemption for the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 – Chicago Tribune

Tiger Woods accepted a special exemption for the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2, the first time the three-time champion has needed an exemption to play.

Woods has been exempt from every U.S. Open since he first played as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion in 1995. His five-year exemption for winning the 2019 Masters expired last year.

The waiver was expected and would likely be the first of many. The USGA is particular about who is exempt from qualifying, most recently awarding one in 2021 to Phil Mickelson.

Jack Nicklaus, with four US Open titles among his 18 professional majors, received a record eight special exemptions, including five in a row, until he stopped playing the US Open at Pebble Beach after 2000.

Arnold Palmer received five US Open exemptions, the last in 1994 when he returned to Oakmont, near his hometown, for a tearful farewell.

Woods won the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach by 15 shots, a record winning margin for any major champion. He added another title at Bethpage Black in New York in 2002, and he famously won his third US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, just a week before undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

“The US Open, our national championship, is truly a special event for our game and one that has helped define my career,” Woods said in a statement. “I am honored to receive this exemption and couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to compete in this year’s US Open, especially at Pinehurst, a venue that means so much to the game.”

The US Open is June 13-16 at Pinehurst No. 2, where the Open will be held for the fourth time. Woods finished third, two shots behind the late Payne Stewart, in 1999. He was second at Pinehurst in 2005 to Michael Campbell. He missed the most recent Open at Pinehurst in 2014 while recovering from the first of what would be four back surgeries.

Woods has a long history with the USGA as the only player to win the US Junior Amateur three times in a row, followed by the US Amateur three times in a row. His nine USGA championships are matched only by amateur great Bobby Jones.

Woods was selected earlier this year to receive the Bob Jones Award, the USGA’s highest honor.

“The story of the US Open could not be written without Tiger Woods,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA Chief Championships Officer. “From his 15-stroke win at Pebble Beach in 2000 to his inspiring win over a broken leg at Torrey Pines in 2008, this championship is simply better when Tiger is in the field, and his performance in the game has undoubtedly made this an easy one. decision made for our special exemption committee.”

It will be Woods’ first time competing in the US Open since Winged Foot in 2020, which was held without fans in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He crashed his car in Los Angeles and seriously injured his right leg and ankle in February 2021, causing him to miss the US Open’s return to Torrey Pines. While he returned to competition a year later, the US Open at Brookline in 2022 was the only major he did not play. A year ago, Woods underwent surgery on his right ankle after the Masters and did not play the rest of the year, missing the US Open debut at Los Angeles Country Club.

Woods last competed in the US Open in 2010 at Pebble Beach, where he shot 66 points in the third round but then closed with a 75 to tie for fourth place.

He is expected to play in the PGA Championship in two weeks at Valhalla, where he won in 2000 on his way to capturing all four majors in a row. Woods said during a round of appearances on NBC shows earlier this week to promote his clothing line that his plan was to play in the remaining three majors.