Golf’s worst-kept secret had been confirmed - the 150th Open Championship will be played at St Andrews in 2021.
Working on a five-year cycle that has been in place since 1990, the game’s oldest major had been due to return to the Fife venue in 2020.
But that has been pushed back a year to coincide with a significant milestone for the event.
“St Andrews is the most appropriate place for the 150th playing and we are working on initiatives to mark that achievement.” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said in confirming the 2021 venue today.
“There is something magical about an Open Championship at St Andrews and this one will be very special.”
It will be the 30th time the Old Course has hosted the event, with American Zach Johnson winning a play-off the last time it was held there in 2015.
“St Andrews has produced a revered group of outstanding Champion Golfers since The Open was first played on the Old Course in 1873,” added Slumbers.
“Once again we look forward to seeing the greatest players take on the challenge of the world’s most iconic links course in their pursuit of the Claret Jug.”
Carnoustie stages the Claret Jug this year and it had already been announced that Royal Portrush and Royal St George’s will be the host venues in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Today’s announcement about St Andrews staging the celebration event after that was welcomed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
“As the world’s oldest and most prestigious professional golf championship, The Open is synonymous with both St Andrews and Scotland and I’m delighted St Andrews will welcome its 150th staging in 2021,” she said.
“The Open is without doubt one of the biggest events held in Scotland on a regular basis, drawing huge spectator attendance from outwith the country and providing a global media and broadcast platform to promote our outstanding golfing assets to future visitors.
“Through VisitScotland, we continue to support The Open and we will work with The R&A to deliver a Championship in 2021 befitting of its historical significance.”
The Old Course first hosted the Open Championship in 1873, when the event’s 13th staging was won by Tom Kidd over just 18 holes.
Since then, Champion Golfers of the year at St Andrews have included JH Taylor, James Braid, Bobby Jones, Peter Thomson, Bobby Locke, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.
“There can be no more fitting celebration of the rich heritage of the Home of Golf and its relationship with the world’s oldest major championship than as host of The 150th Open,”
said Euan Loudon, chief executive of St Andrews Links Trust.
“It is always special when The Open returns to the Old Course and I am sure that excitement, both here in St Andrews and around the world, will build in anticipation of this special occasion.
“Almost every great champion in the game has played on our famous Links and we look forward to welcoming the next generation of golfing greats for The 150th Open.”
It also emerged today that the 2022 event will be held in England, meaning that Muirfield will have to wait until 2023 to get its next turn.
“St Andrews is such a magnetic place, it’s better for the event not to be held in Scotland the year after St Andrews,” added Slumbers.
That probably points to Muirfield being in line for the 2023 tournament, with Slumbers insisting that Turnberry is still in the R&A’s “pool of course” for the event despite it last being the host venue in 2009.
Under owner Donald Trump’s instructions, the Ailsa Course has been given a spectacular makeover by leading course architect Martin Ebert in recent years. But it seems unlikely that it will stage the Open Championship until after Trump’s term as US President.
“I wouldn’t read very much into it,” said Slumbers of the gap between visits to Turnberry set to be a minimum of 14 years, pointing out that it has been 15 years between the previous two Opens at the Ayrshire venue.
“We have a criteria about which course we want to go to, and part of that is clearly macroeconomic impacts and clearly part of that macroeconomics, I suppose, is a little bit about politics. It would be very complex having an Open at Turnberry at the moment.
“It’s a course where you’ve got the ownership issue of the course and and we want to make sure that we stay true to the golf, the playing of the golf.
“But Turnberry is a fantastic golf course and will be a great venue when we get there. They’d love to host the Open Championship and it will considered every time that we come back to Scotland.
“It’s a wonderful links golf course and there have been some terrific improvements there and I think it would show really well.”