BRITISH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
The Open Championship often referred to asThe Openor theBritish Open, is an annualgolf tournament conducted byThe R&A. It is one of the fourmajor championshipsin professional golf and is the oldest of the four. The Open is traditionally played in mid-July; beginning in 2019, with the rescheduling of thePGA Championshipto May, the tournament will be the final major of the golf season. It was first played in 1860 atPrestwick Golf ClubinScotland. The Open is hosted in theUnited Kingdomand is the only major played outside theUnited States.
The current champion is Francesco Molinari, who won the 147th Open at Carnosine in 2018 with a score of 276. The 2019 Open Championship will be held at Royal Port rush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. It was also held at Port rush in 1951, the first occasion that it has not been held in Scotland or England.
Thefirst Open Championshipwas played on 17 October 1860 atPrestwick Golf ClubinAyrshire,Scotland, over three rounds of the twelve-holelinks course.In the mid-19th century, golf was played mainly by well-off gentlemen, as hand-crafted clubs and balls were expensive. Professionals made a living from playing for bets, caddying, ball and club making, and instruction.Allan Robertson was the most famous of these pros and was regarded as the undisputed best golfer between 1843 and his death in 1859.James Ogilvie FairlieofPrestwick Golf Clubdecided to form competition in 1860, "to be played for by professional golfers", and to decide who would succeed Robertson as the "Champion Golfer".Blackheath(England),Perth,Bruntsfield(Edinburgh),MusselburghandSt Andrewsgolf clubs were invited to send up to three of their best players known as a respectable caddie to represent each of the clubs.The winner received the Challenge Belt, made from red leather with a silver buckle and worth 25, which came about thanks to being donated by theEarl of Eglinton, a man with a keen interest in medieval pageantry (belts were the type of trophy that might have been competed for in archery or jousting).
The first rule of the new golf competition was The party winning the belt shall always leave the belt with the treasurer of the club until he produces a guarantee to the satisfaction of the above committee that the belt shall be safely kept and laid on the table at the next meeting to compete for it until it becomes the property of the winner by being won three times in succession. Eight golfers contested the event, with Willie Park, Sr.winning the championship by 2 shots from Old Tom Morris, and he was declared "The Champion Golfer of the Year".
A year later, it became "open" to amateurs as well as professionals. Ten professionals and eight amateurs contested the event, with Old Tom Morris winning the championship by 4 shots from Willie Park, Sr.A prize fund (10) was introduced in 1863 split between 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (the winner only received the Challenge Belt). From 1864 onwards a cash prize was also paid to the winner.Before this the only financial incentive was scheduling Prestwick's own domestic tournament the same week, this allowed professionals to earn a few days' works caddying for the wealthier gentlemenWillie Park, Sr. went on to win two more tournaments, and Old Tom Morris three more, beforeYoung Tom Morrison three consecutive titles between 1868 and 1870. The rules stated that he was allowed to keep the belt for achieving this feat. Because no trophy was available, the tournament was not held in 1871.
The Open Championship has always been held on a coastal links golf course in Scotland, England or Northern Ireland. The hosting pattern has been:
- 18601870:Prestwick Golf Clubthe sole host.
- 18721892: Three year rotation between Prestwick,St Andrews, andMusselburgh(replaced byMuirfieldin 1892) golf clubs.
- 18931907: Five year rotation between Prestwick,Royal St George's, St Andrews, Muirfield, andRoyal LiverpoolGolf Clubs.
- 19081939: Six year rotation, initially between Prestwick,Royal Cinque Ports, St Andrews, Royal St George's, Muirfield, and Royal Liverpool Golf Clubs, so alternating between Scotland and England.A few changes were made to the rota of 6 courses afterWorld War I.
- 19461972: Alternating between Scottish and English golf clubs continues but without a fixed rota. Exceptions were St Andrews hosting pre- and post-World War II, and Northern Ireland hosting in 1951.
- 1973 to date: Usually three Scottish and two English courses hosting in a five-year period, mostly alternating between the two countries, with St Andrews hosting about every five years. Northern Ireland returning in 2019.
The Open makes a historic return to Northern Ireland in 2019. Golfs oldest and most international championship returns after 68 years with the worlds greatest players competing for the Claret Jug over the Dunluce Links at Portrush on what is sure to be one of the most memorable Championships.
The Dunluce Links will provide a stern test of golf for the best players in the world. Originally designed by Harry Colt, the course is routed through the rugged links land and constantly changes in both direction and elevation.
The 148th Open will be played at Royal Portrush Golf Club from Sunday 14 to Sunday 21 July 2019.
It is anticipated that there will be a high number of spectators attending throughout the week. To minimize road traffic congestion, the organizers of The Open are asking visitors to consider the use of public transport, which will be significantly enhanced for travel convenience. There will be no car parking available at Royal Port rush Golf Club or in the immediate area. All public parking will be provided at managed Park and Ride sites.
The road to The 148th Open at Royal Portrush began at the Emirates Australian Open last November, the first of 16 events in 11 countries that make up The Open Qualifying Series for 2019.
A total of 46 places in The Open are available through the Series, which provides golfers with opportunities to qualify at events around the world on the PGA TOUR, the European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Asian Tour, the Korean Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, and the Sunshine Tour.
In addition to this players become exempt from qualifying through their performances that match any of the 28 exemption categories.
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