Jack Nicklaus can play in the U.S. Open, after all. The USGA on Monday gave Nicklaus special exemptions for the next three tournaments through the year 2000.
When Nicklaus was not among those given exemptions by the USGA in January it appeared his streak of consecutive major championships would end at 145 after this year’s Masters.
Now Nicklaus can extend that streak through the 2001 Masters, if he chooses, pushing it to 157 consecutive major championships. He has lifetime invitations to the Masters and the PGA Championship and can play the British Open until he is 65. He is 58.
This year’s U.S. Open is June 18-21 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. The 1999 Open is at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina, and the 2000 tournament is at Pebble Beach, Calif.
“The invitation was a surprise to Jack,” Nicklaus spokesman Scott Tolley said from Golden Bear offices in North Palm Beach, Fla. “He told USGA officials he would call them back this week.”
Tolley said Nicklaus felt the position he was being offered was an important spot for a young golfer and he wanted to feel certain he was physically able to play before accepting.