The defending Shinnecock Hills champion is not in the field for this year's US Open

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Why Isn’t Retief Goosen Playing In The US Open?

Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen, and winner the last time it was hosted at Shinnecock Hills, is not in the field for this year’s tournament.

The 49-year-old was not given an exemption and then failed to qualify at sectional qualifying in Memphis. Goosen’s four-under total was three short of a playoff.

The South African, bizarrely, was not given an exemption into the field at Shinnecock despite winning the tournament there in 2004 where he tamed the brutal conditions to beat Phil Mickelson by two.

Both Ernie Els, winner in 1994 and 1997, and Jim Furyk, champion in 2003, have been given special exemptions into this year’s event.

Goosen won the 2001 US Open at Southern Hills after defeating Mark Brooks by two strokes in a Monday Playoff. ( TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Goosen described the lack of exemption as “disappointing” to the New York Post.

“They rung me about two weeks before (Els and Furyk’s invites were announced) and told me, ‘Sorry, it doesn’t look like the exemption’s going to go to you.’

“Obviously, they felt Ernie and Jim were a little bit more qualified for the event than I am.’’

Goosen received an invite into the 2016 US Open at Oakmont and that is almost certainly why he hasn’t been invited into this year’s tournament.

He would have become just the eighth man in history to receive more than one US Open exemption after Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Hale Irwin and Lee Trevino.

“They gave me an invite a couple of years ago, which was surprising,’’ Goosen told the NY Post.

“You’d have thought they might have held it back for Shinnecock just in case.’’

According to the New York Post, Ernie Els thought Goosen had received an invite until they told him.

Goosen currently ranks 372nd in the world

“That’ll be a hard one to take — to be the defending champion at Shinnecock and not get a nod,’’ the Big Easy said.

The USGA’s Managing Director of Rules and Open Championship Jeff Hall told the New York Post that they want around half of the 156 spots available made up of qualifiers.

“When we give out a special exemption, that’s one less spot for the open qualification process,’’ Hall said.

“We are very keen on the openness nature of the qualifying.’’

Goosen is still playing a lot of golf and has had a T12th finish on the PGA Tour this season as well as two top 20s, one on the PGA Tour and one on the European Tour.

He won’t be there at Shinnecock but all of the world’s best players will be, including Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and a certain Tiger Woods.

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