Alteration to qualifying criteria makes the championship 'as open as possible'
THE R&A has announced changes to qualifying for the Open Championship that affects golfers at all levels looking to play in the 143rd staging of golf’s oldest major at Royal Liverpool in 2014.
Final qualifying for the Open has been altered and will be staged at four venues covering Scotland and the North-West, Central and South-coast regions of England. The venues are Gailes Links in Ayrshire, Hillside in Southport, Woburn in Buckinghamshire and Royal Cinques Ports in Kent with the R&A looking to provide a more accessible route into the Open for competitors who progress from the 13 regional qualifying events around the country.
Three places will be up for grabs at each final qualifier with Glasgow Gailes Links appointed as the sole Scottish course to host the final Open qualifiers for four years from 2014.
As well as amendments to final qualifying, there are changes to how the pros can qualify from the tour. The introduction of a qualifying series means 14 events in nine countries will offer players the opportunity to qualify for the Open Championship at events on the PGA Tour, European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Japan Golf Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
It has also provided a boost to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open as it will now have three places at the Open to offer, which is likely to attract a stronger field as a result.
Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, said: “This is a significant change to the qualifying process for the Open and one which will make the championship as open as possible to players from around the world.”