Two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler and Zach Johnson were among 24 golfers given spots in this year’s tournament because of their world rankings, the U.S. Golf Association said.
Thomas Bjorn, Ben Crane and Ian Poulter also qualified through the rankings system, bringing the total of exempt golfers for the season’s second major championship to 77, the USGA said on its website. Players without exemptions must play qualifying rounds.
The tournament is set to begin June 14 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Lee Janzen won the last Open played there, in 1998.
The exemptions went to players who were among the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking as of May 21. Miguel Angel Jimenez was No. 60, gaining a spot.
Els, the world’s 44th-ranked golfer, won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997. Past champions receive automatic berths in the tournament for 10 years.
Fowler is ranked 20th, Johnson 27th, Poulter 28th, Bjorn 38th and Crane 51st.
Matteo Manassero, ranked 62nd, is among those who still can qualify by moving into the top 60 by June 11.