The USGA has offered Ernie Els and Jim Furyk both special exemptions into the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, N.Y.
The 48-year-old Els, named Tuesday the 2019 Presidents Cup team captain for the International side, won a pair of US Open titles -- in 1994 at Oakmont in an 18-hole Monday playoff over Loren Roberts and Colin Montgomerie, as well in 1997 at Congressional Country Club in Maryland.
Furyk, 47, is the current US Ryder Cup captain and won his lone major at the 2003 US Open at Olympia Fields, just outside of Chicago.
For Els, this will be in 26th consecutive US Open. For Furyk, it will be his 24th overall Open appearance and 23rd in a row.
“It’s a thrill and I’m very grateful to the USGA,” said Els. “Obviously, the U.S. Open means a lot to me. This is kind of where it all started, you might say. Winning at Oakmont at the age of 24, as I’ve said before it was almost like a shock the way it happened. I still thought I had some steps to climb to get there. Then ’97 was just a very, very special week, winning in the nation’s capital, and that set me up for a really great year. For me there are so many wonderful memories from U.S. Opens and it’s exciting to be able to keep that story going.”
In 1994 at Oakmont, Els, Roberts and Montgomerie tied in regulation at 5-under-par 279 through 72 holes. Then, Els won the playoff on the 20th hole with a par after Roberts found a greenside bunker on the par-4 11th. Montgomerie shot 78 in the playoff round. At Congressional, Els won in regulation, again surpassing Montgomerie, with a total of 4-under 276 to also hold off Tom Lehman and Jeff Maggert at the peak of their respective, impressive US Open runs.
Furyk's 2003 winning total of 8-under 272 tied the US Open scoring record until Rory McIlroy obliterated pretty much every US Open record with his 2011 win at Congressional.
“As a past US.Open champion, I am grateful to the USGA to accept a special exemption into the US Open Championship, where the quality of the course and how it’s set up pushes me to step up my physical and mental game,” Furyk said. “Getting to play in another US Open at a historic course like Shinnecock Hills really gets my competitive spirit flowing. I’ve had great success in my many trips to the U.S. Open and winning one is a highlight of my career.”
Els was runner up to Tiger Woods in 2000 at Pebble Beach, and Furyk finished second in 2006, 2007 and 2016. Els and Furyk are the first players to receive special exemptions into the US Open since two-time winner Retief Goosen in 2016 at Oakmont. Hale Irwin is the lone player to win the US Open playing on a special exemption, doing so in a 19-hole playoff against Mike Donald in 1990 at Medinah Country Club to claim his third and final US Open title.