03 Feb 2022 | Professional golf |

'Priceless' St Andrews spots go to Vic Open

by Martin Blake

St Andrews sunset image
St Andrews is hosting the 150th Open Championship. Photo: Getty

Three players from the PGA Tour of Australasia are about to earn a priceless invitation to play at the home of Golf, the Old Course at St Andrews, in the 150th Open Championship this year.

The R&A today announced that the top three non-exempt players in next week’s Vic Open at 13th Beach will be given invitations to play at St Andrews from 14-17 July.

The Vic Open was today added to the list of tournaments that are part of the Open Qualifying Series, after this week’s cancellation of the New Zealand Open in Queenstown, scheduled for March, because of border closures.

The decision to transfer the qualifying spots over to next week’s event at 13th Beach on the Bellarine Peninsula is a huge boost for the Vic Open, which is resuming after a year’s hiatus caused by the global pandemic and border issues.

None of the players currently entered in the Vic Open field are qualified to play in the Open Championship in 2022.

This means that the top three finishers at 13th Beach from 10-13 February are all straight into the field for the Open at St Andrews.

“This is a massive opportunity for our players in Australia,” said James Sutherland, Chief Executive of Golf Australia today.

“To think that it’s the 150th Open, played at the home of golf, not to mention the oldest and most famous golf tournament on the planet. We’re absolutely rapt that it was able to happen albeit that we feel sympathy for our friends in New Zealand who unfortunately had to cancel their own Open.”

Gavin Kirkman, Chief Executive of the Australasian PGA Tour, said: “While we were disappointed for New Zealand it’s wonderful that our tour has been able to retain these playing spots in what will be an incredible moment for all the players and spectators at St Andrews this year.

“It doesn’t get any better than an Open at the home of golf and for three of our players coming out of the Vic Open to be going there in July, it’s just a brilliant opportunity for players on the pathway. Let’s hope one of them can win it like Kel Nagle did at the centenary Open Championship.”

A minimum of 46 places in The Open are available through the qualifying series, which provides golfers with opportunities to qualify at events around the world on the PGA TOUR, DP World Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, Asian Tour, Korean Tour, Japan Golf Tour and Sunshine Tour.

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A, said: “We were sorry to hear that the New Zealand Open was cancelled earlier this week and thank New Zealand Golf for all the preparations it had made for staging the event.

“The Vic Open is a leading event and we are grateful to Golf Australia, the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and the Victorian Government for agreeing to our request to offer players the opportunity to qualify for The 150th Open through the event. We look forward to seeing who emerges from the field to take their place at St Andrews.”

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