USGA gives Retief Goosen special exemption into U.S. Open

Retief Goosen of South Africa, shows his ball after making par on the first hole during the final round of The Players Championship golf tournament Sunday, May 15, 2016, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The USGA has offered two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen a special exemption into this year's Open, to be played in June at Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh.

The 47-year-old South African won his first Open in 2001 in an 18-hole playoff at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., defeating Mark Brooks by two shots. Three years later, Goosen survived borderline unplayable conditions and a challenge from Phil Mickelson to win his second Open at Shinnecock Hills in the Hamptons of New York.

“I am incredibly grateful to receive a special exemption into the 2016 U.S. Open,” said Goosen. “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 was in position to win the Open for a third time in 2005, getting into the final pairing at Pinehurst No. 2 with Jason Gore. However, both players fell off the pace quickly, with Goosen winning the intra-group match with Gore, shooting a final-round 81.

The 10-year exemption for his second Open win expired after the 2014 Open. Goosen played his way into the 2015 Open at Chambers Bay through sectional qualifying in Memphis, Tenn.

Goosen is the first player to receive a special exemption into the U.S. Open since Tom Watson and Vijay Singh in 2010 at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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