Phil Mickelson US Open Exemption: Can It Be Transferred to Rickie Fowler?

Published 06/09/2021, 6:34 AM EDT
Mar 4, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Rickie Fowler hits his drive on the 18th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports


The USGA offered Phil Mickelson a special exemption to play at U.S. Open 2021 because he hadn’t qualified. However, Lefty took it up a notch and earned himself a U.S. Open invite for the next four years as well, by winning the 2021 PGA Championship. Since he no longer requires the exemption offered by the USGA, can they be generous and offer it to someone else; like Rickie Fowler? 

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Fowler is not eligible to play at the 121st U.S. Open this month as he failed to get past final qualifying in Columbus. Fowler will not compete at the U.S. Open for the first time since 2010 and golf fans are wondering there could be a way to make Fowler play at Torrey Pines. 

Phil Mickelson wants to pass on his exemption to Rickie Fowler

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Phil Mickelson was not playing solid golf before the PGA Championship and desperately required an exemption to play at the U.S. Open 2021. Hence, the USGA offered him one on May 14, and golf fans around the world were grateful for the deed. 

But Mickelson rewrote history at Kiawah Island by becoming the oldest major winner at the age of 50. His PGA Championship win earned him a five-year exemption to play at the U.S. Open, meaning that USGA’s offer was no longer needed. 

On the other side, Rickie Fowler failed to get past final qualifying and will not play at U.S. Open 2021. Hence, this made fans wonder if the exemption could be transferred from Mickelson to Fowler. 

Fowler will be the beneficiary if this happens, but the USGA is the final authority in this matter. As of now, Rickie Fowler has not been handed an exemption to compete at U.S. Open 2021. But Mickelson informally gave up his exemption ticket to Fowler on Twitter! 

How did Fowler perform at U.S. Open qualifying?

Rickie Fowler played his U.S. Open qualifier at Columbus, Ohio which awarded 16 spots to the competitors. 120 players were fighting for 16 spots and they all had to play 36-holes to determine who made the cut. 

Rickie Fowler stumbled in his first 18 holes and shot 1-over par. While he picked up the pace in the subsequent round, it wasn’t enough to take him over the cut. Fowler shot 6-under in the second round and went 5-under overall. He missed the cut, unfortunately. 

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Jun 4, 2021; Dublin, Ohio, USA; Rickie Fowler checks his yardage book on the 18th green during the second round of the Memorial Tournament golf tourney. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Fowler was also given a chance to qualify as an alternate reserve, but he missed out on the spot by one stroke. It was agony for Fowler and his fans at The Lakes Golf & Country Club on Tuesday.

There is only one way Fowler can still qualify for U.S. Open at Torrey Pines – get the USGA to offer Mickelson’s exemption to him! 

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Arjun Athreya

1943 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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