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Tom Watson accepts exemption to play U.S. Open

April 12, 2010 |  9:21 am

Watson_240 Tom Watson, who hasn't played in the U.S. Open since 2003, has accepted an exemption into this year's tournament, at Pebble Beach on June 17-20.

Watson, 60, defied all odds at the Masters last week, opening the tournament one shot off the lead after the first round and finishing tied for 18th at an age that is closer to being an honorary starter for the tournament than a serious competitor. Before his showing this year, he had made the cut only once since 1997.

That performance came on the heels of his stirring second-place finish to Stewart Cink in a playoff at last summer's British Open.

In Watson's last U.S. Open appearance, as a young pup of 53, he held a share of the lead after 18 holes at Olympia Fields and finished tied for 28th. He has played all four U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach and made one of golf's most famous shots -- a seemingly impossible chip-in from the rough on the 17th hole at Pebble in 1982 -- to win the Open over Jack Nicklaus.

-- Mike James

Photo: Tom Watson. Credit: David Cannon / Getty Images.