The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open has been given a major boost this morning as it was awarded two additional qualifying spots for the Open Championship by the R&A as the governing body rolled out a new international qualifying series that is being introduced for 2014.
The qualifying series will see the event become one of 14 events in nine countries that offers players the opportunity to qualify at prestigious events on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Japan Golf Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
"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." - Paul Lawrie
Nine qualifying places will be available on the both the PGA and European tours. Players will be able to qualify at the AT&T National, The Greenbrier Classic and the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour while the Irish Open, the Alstom Open de France as well as the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, said: “This is a significant change to the qualifying process for The Open Championship and one which will make it as open as possible to players from around the world.
“The new Open Championship Qualifying Series will create an exciting build-up to The Open Championship as players bid to secure their places I 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.”
The 2001 Open Champion David Duval was also supportive of the new series. He said: I feel like The Open Championship is the most important golf tournament of the year. For guys to know that many weeks ahead of time that they are in, that they have qualified, and that they have had 72 holes to do it, I think it's a brilliant idea.”
Final qualifying for The Open Championship has also been changed for 2014. It will continue to offer three places at each of four events in the UK but for the first time next year they will be played at four venues covering Scotland and the North-West, Central and South-coast regions of England to provide a more accessible route into The Open for those looking to gain entry at the regional qualifying events.
Open Championship Qualifying Series begins in Australia
The Open Championship Qualifying Series will begin at the Emirates Australian Open which runs from November 28 – December 1 with qualifying places also available at the Mizuno Open on the Japan Golf Tour.