Open Qualifying Gets “Brilliant” Shake Up
The R&A have revamped qualifying for the Open and introduced a new international qualifying series aiming to “create an exciting build-up” ahead of next year’s tournament at Royal Liverpool.
The major changes see the creation of qualifying spots on selected tournaments on the PGA, European and Australasia Tours. This means players will now qualify over 72 holes of competition instead of the former 36.
The Open Qualifying Series will comprise 14 events in nine countries on five continents. Players will be able to qualify on the PGA Tour at each of the AT&T National, The Greenbrier Classic and the John Deere Classic. In Europe, players will be able to qualify at the Irish Open, the Alstom Open de France and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open prior to The Open.
The Qualifying Series will commence with the Emirates Australian Open in late November. Qualifying places will also be available at the Mizuno Open on the Japan Golf Tour, The Open Qualifying Series – Thailand and the Joburg Open in South Africa.
Peter Dawson, the Chief Executive of The R&A, believes the changes will make the championship “as open as possible to players from around the world.
“We believe it will enhance the qualification process by giving players the opportunity to qualify at 72-hole championships as well as being more convenient in terms of their scheduling.”
And the changes have been embraced by players, such as two-time Open Champion Padraig Harrington who commented, “I really do think it will attract more players to the Irish Open, especially those who are not already exempt for The Open Championship, and some quality players will be in that category. The Scottish Open and the French Open are also going to be involved which will also make those events stronger,” while 2001 Open Champion David Duval said, “I think it’s a brilliant idea.”
Final Qualifying for The Open Championship has also been changed. It will continue to offer three places at each of four events in the UK but for the first time next year they will be played at venues covering Scotland and the North-west, Central and South-coast regions of England to provide a more accessible route for competitors. The venues are: Gailes Links, Hillside, Woburn and Royal Cinque Ports.