Denied exemption, Stricker plays way into Open

Steve Stricker applied for a special exemption to play the U.S. Open next week at Erin Hills in his native Wisconsin, but was denied.

So he went to sectional qualifying in Memphis, Tenn., and earned a spot in the second major of the year by shooting 67 at Ridgeway Country Club and 65 at Germantown Country Club.

“It means a lot,” said the 50-year-old Stricker, who has played on both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions this season. “Not getting an exemption was a motivational factor.

“Not that I deserved one, but it’s been driving me to achieve this goal. And I’m just happy that I’m going to get to play. It’s a relief to get to play in the first one in my home state.”

Stricker, whose best finish on the PGA Tour this season was a tie for seventh in the Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial, has won 12 times on the circuit and posted 11 top-25 finishes in 19 U.S. Open appearances.

A total of 72 players earned U.S. Open spots through sectional qualifying.

Among the PGA Tour players to make it at 10 sectional qualifiers across the country were 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley, 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink, Martin Laird of Scotland, Jamie Lovemark of Rancho Santa Fe and USC, Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, David Lingmerth of Sweden, Harris English, Bud Cauley, Jason Kokrak, Daniel Chopra of Sweden and J.T. Poston.

Among those who failed to qualify were three-time major champion Vijay Singh of Fiji, two-time U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen of South Africa, 1997 PGA champion Davis Love III, former World No. 1 Luke Donald of England, Duffy Waldorf of Granada Hills and UCLA, Jason Gore of Valencia and Pepperdine, James Hahn of Alameda and Cal, and John Merrick of Long Beach and UCLA.


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