R&A honours Watson and announces The Open venues

The R&A has announced that Royal Birkdale will host The Open Championship in 2017 and Carnoustie will host the Championship in 2018. St Andrews and Royal Troon have already been announced for 2015 and 16 respectively. The announcement was made at the build-up to The Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.

At the event The R&A also announced that the exemption of five-time Open Champion Tom Watson will be extended to enable him to make his fortieth anniversary appearance in the 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews. The 64-year-old, who came close to winning the 2009 Open at Turnberry, was presented by the R&A with a special commemorative solid silver Players’ Badge to recognise his 40 years in The Open Championship.

Watson is one of a select group of players to win The Open on five occasions along with James Braid, JH Taylor and Peter Thomson. Only Harry Vardon has won more Championships with six victories. In his first appearance in The Open at Carnoustie in 1975 Watson defeated Jack Newton by one shot after an 18-hole play-off. Two years later at Turnberry he won again by one shot after a memorable battle with Jack Nicklaus in what became known as the ‘Duel in the Sun’.

Watson commented, “Some of my finest memories in golf have come from playing in The Open Championship. I am very proud and honoured to be given this opportunity to play once again in St Andrews next year. It is a special place for everyone in golf and I am very much looking forward to playing there again in front of the wonderful Scottish galleries. The Open Championship is unlike any other event in golf and to be part of its history is a privilege.”