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The R&A has announced changes to the Open’s exemption categories, after issuing the qualifying criteria for this year’s event.

Taking place at Royal Troon, in South Ayrshire, the 152nd Open will run from July 14-21, as Brian Harman attempts to defend his Claret Jug.

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Players competing on the Asian Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour can now qualify through the International Federation Ranking list.

The leading five golfers as of the closing date of entries will be awarded places in The Open.

And an exemption for the Africa Amateur Champion has also been added. Altin van der Merwe will take it up this year after winning the inaugural championship at Leopard Creek last month.

A medical exemption is also being granted to Michael Hendry after the New Zealander was unable to take his place in the 151st Open last year due to serious illness.

The changes are the biggest since the governing body announced the introduction of the Open Qualifying Series ahead of the championship in 2023.

It offered 34 places in the field for the Open across 15 professional events in nine countries.

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This week’s Arnold Palmer invitational on the PGA Tour is one of 16 events in the 2024 series, running in 11 different countries.

LIV Golf’s David Puig, Joaquin Niemann and Dean Burmester have already booked their place at Royal Troon through the series.

Meanwhile, a minimum of 16 places will be available at Final Qualifying, set to take place at Burnham & Berrow, Dundonald Links, Royal Cinque Ports and West Lancashire.

Elsewhere, Tiger Woods is set for a return to Scotland after he missed the cut at St Andrews in 2022.

And it turns out Woods will have five more years of eligibility in the tournament compared to future winners, as the R&A has changed the Champions Exemption category.

In the most significant change listed, from 2024, players who win The Open will be exempt until the age of 55. All current past champions are able to play until the age of 60.

Past-champion exemptions is a hot topic among the majors, with the Masters and PGA Championship offering lifetime passes for players who have won the Green Jacket or Wanamaker respectively, while the US Open allows its former winners a ten-year exemption.

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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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