The road to qualifying for the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) begins several thousand miles away in south east Australia this week.
The first event in the new Open Qualifying Series is the Emirates Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club from 28 November to 1 December. Three players who finish in the top ten and ties, who have not already qualified, will secure their places in golf’s oldest Major Championship next July.
The Open Qualifying Series comprises 14 events in nine countries on five continents and offers players the opportunity to qualify for The Open at prestigious events on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Japan Golf Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
Four players in the 156 man field at Royal Sydney have already qualified for The Open – Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Kevin Streelman and the remainder of the field will be bidding to follow them.
Defending champion Peter Senior, who came through International Final Qualifying to play in the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews, welcomed the Emirates Australian Open becoming part of the new Qualifying Series.
“It is a great event which attracts a strong field but this will make it even more attractive for players,” he said. “I think everyone is excited about having the added bonus of being able to qualify for The Open Championship this week.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for players from this part of the world to secure their places in The Open and I think it’s beneficial for them to be able to do so through a 72-hole event.”
Peter Dawson, the Chief Executive of The R&A, which organises The Open Championship, said, “We are adding another chapter to the history of The Open Championship by taking international qualifying to national opens and important events on different Tours around the world. The Open is golf’s most international Major Championship and the new Qualifying Series adds another dimension to its global appeal.
“We are pleased to be launching the series at an excellent event in the Emirates Australian Open and an historic venue such as Royal Sydney.”
A place in The Open Championship is also available to the winner of the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit if he has not already qualified. The winner will be confirmed at the conclusion of The Emirates Australian Open. Recent ISPS Handa Perth International winner and 2010 Amateur Champion Jin Jeong is competing with the Masters Champion Adam Scott to win the Order of Merit. Both players are in the field this week.
The Open Qualifying Series replaces International Final Qualifying (IFQ) for The Open Championship which was introduced in 2004 and involved 36-hole qualifying events in Australasia, Asia, Africa, America and Europe.
Final Qualifying for The Open Championship also changes in 2014. Final Qualifying 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 four venues covering Scotland and the North-west, Central and South-coast regions of England to provide a more accessible route into The Open for competitors qualifying from the 13 Regional Qualifying events around the country. The venues are: Gailes Links, Hillside, Woburn and Royal Cinque Ports.
For more information visit TheOpen.com.