NEXT year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open will offer three spots in the following week’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
The change - only one spot was up for grabs at Castle Stuart this year - is part of a new international qualifying series for the world’s oldest major announced today by the R&A.
The international final qualifier held at Sunningdale in recent years has been scrapped along with similar events in Australia, South Africa and the United States. Thailand will now only hold one of those.
Instead, the emphasis has been switched back to the Tours, with a total of nine Open spots on offer between the Scottish Open, the Irish Open and the French Open - the three events on the European Tour immediately prior to the season’s third major.
“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,” said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.
“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.”
Welcoming the changes, 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie said: “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.”