A record field of 618 – almost a third up on last year – has entered Monday qualifying for the first Senior Open Championship to be played at the Old Course, St Andrews.
The huge qualifying field – which includes 145 amateurs – will play at four Fife courses on Monday July 23 for just 24 places in the championship itself which starts just three days later.
Already 120 players are exempt for the 33rd Senior Open present by Rolex, including 40 Ryder Cup players, 11 captains (from both Europe and the USA), 71 European Tour winners and 52 PGA Tour winners.
The remaining 24 places will be decided over 18 holes of qualifying at Fairmont St Andrews, Ladybank, Lundin and Scotscraig, with as many as 160 competitors at some venues.
Last year’s qualifying for the championship won by Bernhard Langer at Royal Porthcawl attracted a qualifying field of 420, showing the lure of playing the Over-50s major on the historic links at St Andrews.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “The phenomenal interest in this year’s Senior Open highlights the enduring appeal of St Andrews, and Scotland, as an internationally renowned golfing destination.
“The opportunity to visit the Old Course, as either a player or spectator, is irresistible with such a strong field set for 2018. This competition will certainly reaffirm Scotland’s reputation as the home of golf.”
Stephen Owen, Chairman of Fife Golf, said ‘We are very fortunate to regularly host some of the world’s greatest golf championships in Fife.
“2018 will see the first staging of The Senior Open Presented by Rolex over the iconic Old Course and the undoubted popularity of the venue is demonstrated by the record number of players entering the pre-qualifying events.
“During qualifying, these players will experience at first hand the wonderful golf on offer at Fairmont St Andrews, Ladybank Golf Club, Scotscraig Golf Club and Lundin Golf Club. On behalf of Fife Golf, I would like to pass on my very best wishes to all the competitors involved’.