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Singh accepts special exemption to U.S. Open

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three-times major winner and former world number one Vijay Singh has accepted a special exemption for this month's U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach, the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) said Wednesday.

"I'm finally back to good health and really looking forward to competing," Singh said in a statement released by USGA.

The Open is scheduled for June 17-20 at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links.

"It's a fantastic event at a legendary venue," added Singh, the 1998 and 2004 PGA champion and 2000 Masters winner who has been beset with injuries in recent years.

The injuries dropped the Fiji native out of the top 50 in golf's world rankings, the cutoff for automatic qualifying for the Open. He has played in 15 consecutive Opens and 16 overall, tying for 27th in 2009.

"There were many compelling reasons for us to invite Vijay Singh into the field of this year's U.S. Open, particularly his three wins in majors in the last 12 years," said Thomas O'Toole Jr., chairman of the USGA's championship committee.

Singh's injuries caused him to drop quite quickly in the world rankings, O'Toole said, adding, "He is healthy and playing well again."

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina. Editing by Steve Ginsburg)