A new international qualifying series has been introduced for next year’s Open Championship.
The ‘Open Qualifying Series’ will see 14 events in nine countries offering players the opportunity to qualify for golf’s oldest Major at competitions on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Japan Golf Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
The series replaces International Final Qualifying to use existing tour events.
The new format, which will put nine qualifying places up for grabs on the PGA and European Tours, will benefit players across the world with it considered more convenient for them in terms of scheduling.
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 start with the Emirates Australian Open which runs from November 28 - December 1, this year. 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, 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.
“The new Open Qualifying Series will create an exciting build-up to The Open as players bid to secure their places in the weeks leading up to the Championship. 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.”
Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open Champion, added: “I think there are two things that jump out.
“It’s going to strengthen the tournaments where those places are going to be coming from and that it is qualifying over a 72-hole event, which I think is fairer for the players trying to qualify.”
At Aberdeen three places will be given to the leading three players.
Many of the world’s top players are exempt from qualifying through a number of criteria including world or domestic tour ranking.