Golf: Nicklaus's major run ends at 145

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The Independent Online
The United States Golf Association yesterday did not offer a special exemption to Jack Nicklaus for the 1998 US Open, ending Nicklaus's run of consecutive major championships played at 145 with the Masters this April.

At its meting in Tucson, Arizona, the USGA ranted no exemptions for the US Open, but a rules change allowing the top 20 on the final World Golf Rankings of the previous year into the tournament meant that three big names not otherwise eligible - Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Jumbo Ozaki - can play.

Nicklaus has played in all four of the majors each year since turning pro in 1962 and has played in 152 of the professional majors dating back to the 1957 US Open, when he qualified as an amateur.

The streak, one of the most remarkable in any sport, could continue only if the 58-year-old Nicklaus was to come through the qualifying rounds to get into the US Open, but he has said he would not attempt that.

Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson are the only four- time winners of the US Open. Nicklaus played in his first Open as a 17- year-old amateur in 1957 at Inverness in Toledo and has not missed one since.

Last year, Nicklaus played in the US Open on his fifth special exemption since 1991 and finished 52nd. Nicklaus has not finished in the top 20 in the US Open since he was eighth in 1986, the year he won the last of his 18 professional major championships in the Masters. He has also won the US Amateur twice.