Which British Open ?

This post was originally published in July 0f 2016. It is repeated today as the final tournament of the “British Open” series, the Women’s British Open, is being contested today and over the weekend. The only conclusion to draw after reading up on the various Open golf championships in the U.K.–the Brits and Scots sure love their golf. 
Paying Attention: The British Open (AKA “The Open)  was one of the  the dominant sports stories of July,  especially with Jordan Spieth’s win, but dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that “The British Open” that devoured television coverage from Thursday to Sunday is not the only British Open. There are, in fact, four different British Opens, each one offering competition and glory to a different age/gender group.
The Junior British Open.  This tournament was taken over by the R&A(Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, one of the two major ruling bodies in golf) in 1994. It consists of three rounds of golf, stroke play, on courses  in the UK. The cut is made after 36 holes with the top 80 continuing to the final round. The event is staged every two years. Jordan Cox and Patrick Reed of the U.S. were past winners of the event.

The Senior British Open.  This is a tournament for players 50 and older and is typically played the week after the British Open. The event, also organized by the R&A, was first held in 1987 and has a field of 144 players; as with the British Open, there’s a qualifying round of 18 holes, held the Monday before the event, with 24 entry positions available. The remainder of the field is composed of:

  • Any past winner of The Senior Open Championship
  • Past winners of any of the major championships or The Players Championship
  • Winners of the European Tour Order of Merit (now Race to Dubai) in first five years of age eligibility
  • Winners of the BMW PGA Championship in first five years of age eligibility
  • Top 30 from the previous year’s European Senior Tour Order of Merit
  • Top 50 from the European Senior Tour all-time money list as of the start of the tournament
  • Top 30 from the previous year’s PGA Tour Champions money list
  • Top 50 from the PGA Tour Champions all-time money list as of the start of the tournament
  • Top 15 finishers, plus ties, from the previous year’s Senior Open Championship
  • Winners of official events on the European Senior Tour and PGA Tour Champions in the previous two years (starting with the first tournaments after The Senior Open Championship of two years prior)
  • Winners of official events on the European Tour, PGA Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, Japan Golf Tour, and Sunshine Tour in first year of age eligibility
  • Past members of Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup teams in first year of age eligibility
  • Winners of the last five editions of all other events recognised as majors by PGA Tour Champions (Senior Players Championship, The Tradition, U.S. Senior Open, Senior PGA Championship)
  • Current holder of the Japan PGA Senior Championship
  • Current Japan Senior Open champion
  • Top four players, not already exempt, in the top 40 of the current year’s European Senior Tour Order of Merit as of the start of the tournament
  • Top eight players, not already exempt, in the top 75 of the current year’s PGA Tour Champions money list as of the start of the tournament
  • Current Seniors Open Amateur Champion
  • Current U.S. Senior Amateur champion
  • Leading amateur in the previous year’s Senior Open Championship who completed 72 holes
  • The Championship Committee may award special exemptions.
  • (Source: Wikipedia.com )

Past winners of the Senior British Open include Tom Watson (3x), Gary Player (3x), Fred Couples, Christy O’Connor Jr. (2x), Bob Charles (2x), and Bernhard Langer (3x) among others. The purse is approx US $2.0 million.
The Women’s British Open (AKA Ricoh Women’s British Open).  This event, intended to be the women’s equivalent of the male British Open, was established in 1976. It struggled in its’ early years as the very top U.K. courses did not make their courses available for hosting, but in 1999, Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s hosted and then Turnberry, Royal Birkdale, and The Old Course at St. Andrews joined in–each new “traditional” championship course adding to the prestige of the event. Unlike the male British Open, the Women’s British Open plays on both links and regular courses, which, of course, opens up a very wide selection of golf clubs. The prize money is currently US$3.25 million. There are 144 available entry positions, with most of the field made up through exemptions; the remainder of the field plays through qualification. It is the only major recognized by the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour. Karie Webb of Australia and Sherri Steinhauer of the U.S. have each won the tournament 3 times.
The Open (Aka, The British Open)  The “original” British Open is the one conducted for male golfers, at various links courses in the U.K. The event was started in 1860 and is the oldest golf tournament in the world. It too is supervised by the R&A. One hundred forty-four (144) players comprise the field and, after four days of play, the winner is crowned “the Champion Golfer of the Year”. The tournament is–as you will have noted if you have seen any coverage –difficult, challenging, and marked by wild and unpredictable swings in weather, from very nice to very nasty. Past winners include the legends of the game, reaching back to Tom Morris (Sr. and Junior), Harry Varden, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer (who is credited with making the event popular in the U.S. by playing in the tournament the first year it was televised), Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, and Rory McIlroy. The purse for 2017 was $10,250,000 with $1,845,000 to the winner.  (no doubt Brexit and the currency fluctuation of the pound sterling could reduce the take in American dollars). You are strongly encouraged to visit the Open website (above and, in particular, view their three minute film , “The One, The Open”. And next year, dial into their site and follow a round via their radio coverage, which is quite a treat.
The Fine Print: Image courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who continue to fill in the visual gaps in the wide variety of stories reported and covered by this blog. All rights reserved, used by permission. Thanks, guys, for sharing. 

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