The Open Championship

The Open Championship

The Open Championship is one of the four majors in golf that are played each year.  It is the third major of the year following The Masters and the U.S. Open and is played on the third Friday in July.  The Open is played on 1 of 9 links golf courses in England and Scotland.  In 2013 The Open will be hosted by Muirfield in Scotland.

Most people just refer to it as The Open, or The British Open depending on where you live.  It is the oldest of all the golf majors starting way back in 1860.

Of all the majors in golf this is the only one that is held outside the U.S.A.  This is also the only major that is governed by the R&A, who governs golf all over the world accept for the U.S. and Mexico.  The Open features a four-hole playoff at the end of regulation, and continues into sudden-death if tied after four holes.

The Open Trophy

A little bit of history on The Open Championship will help understand the trophy that so many golfers would like to have their name on.  Originally the winner of the tournament was given the Challenge Belt which was a red leather belt with a silver buckle.  In 1870 after Young Tom Morris had won the tournament three times in a row he was able to keep the belt.  When he won for the fourth straight time he was awarded the Golf Champion Trophy, better known today as the Claret Jug.

To play in the British Open

The field for the Open is 156 golfers, and golfers may gain a place in a number of ways.  Most of the field is made up of leading players who are given an exemption.  Further places are given to players who are successful in “Local Qualifying” and those who come through “International Final Qualifying”.  Any remaining places (known as alternates) are made available to the highest ranked players in the Official World Golf Ranking two weeks before The Open.

There are currently 32 exemption categories. Among the more significant are:

  • The top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking. This category means that no member of the current elite of world golf will be excluded.
  • The top 30 in the previous season’s European Tour Race to Dubai and the PGA Tour, and FedEx Cup.  Most of these players will also be in the World top 50.
  • All previous Open Champions who will be age 60 or under on the final day of the tournament. Each year a number of past champions choose not to compete though because, well they just might not have it anymore.
  • All players who have won one of the other three majors in the previous five years.
  • The top 10 from the previous year’s Open Championship.
  • Any past Open champions who have finished in the top 10 in the previous five years.

Other exemptions are given to winners and other leading finishers in a number of important tournaments around the world, to leading money winners in the major tours and to recent Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup players. The latest winners of a few major amateur events are also given exemptions. They must remain amateurs to take advantage of this exemption.

Local Qualifying is the traditional way for non-exempt players to win a place at The Open. In 2012 it comprised fourteen 18-hole “Regional Qualifying” competitions around Britain and Ireland on 25 June with successful competitors moving on to the four 36-hole “Local Final Qualifying” tournaments on 3 July. There are currently 12 places available through Local Qualifying, though there used to be far more.

International Final Qualifying comprises five 36-hole qualifying events, one each in Africa, Australasia, Asia, America and Europe. Only players who have a rating in the Official World Golf Ranking may enter, which is a more stringent standard than for Local Qualifying. 28 places were available through International Final Qualifying in 2012. The R&A introduced International Final Qualifying in 2004 in order to make it easier for professionals from outside Britain and Ireland to compete for a place.

Some of the significant records that have been set at the British Open you might be interested in:

  • Oldest winner: Olf Tom Morris (46 years, 99 days), 1867.
  • Youngest winner: Young Tom Morris (17 years, 156 days), 1868.
  • Most victories: 6, Harry Vardon (1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914).
  • Most consecutive victories: 4, Young Tom Morris (1868, 1869, 1870, 1872 – there was no championship in 1871).
  • Lowest 36-hole score: 130, Sir Nick Faldo (66-64), 1992; Brandt Snedeker (66-64), 2012.
  • Lowest 72-hole score: 267, Greg Norman (66-68-69-64), 1993.
  • Lowest 72-hole score in relation to par: –19, Tiger Woods (67-66-67-69, 269), 2000 (a record for all major championships).
  • Greatest victory margin: 13 strokes, Old Tom Morris, 1862. This remained a record for all majors until 2000, when Woods won the U.S. Open by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach. Old Tom’s 13-stroke margin was achieved over just 36 holes.
  • Lowest 18-hole score in relation to par: –9, Paul Broadhurst, 3rd, 1990; Rory McIlroy, 1st, 2010.

Well that is a general overview of the Open.  If you have been to the Open or have a great story about it let Real Golf Talk know in the comments section below.  Enjoy the British Open

 

 

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