Footballers long to play at Wembley. Golfers dream of teeing it up at The Open. Hundreds of good club players chase the holy grail every year, the vast majority doomed to failure – only to do it all over again 12 months later.
The chances of actually making the field for The Open, being staged this year at Royal Liverpool, may seem akin to winning the lottery.
But for those planning to take part in Open qualifying this year, that tiny chink of light has just been ever so slightly widened.
Players who come through Regional Qualifying to make 36-hole Final Qualifying at either Burnham & Berrow, Dundonald Links, Royal Cinque Ports or West Lancashire on July 4 will be playing for a minimum of 16 places – or four from each venue.
That’s an increase of four spots from last year. And while you’ll almost certainly still have to fend off some of the world’s best players who haven’t already qualified for the 151st staging of the world’s oldest major championship, the fairy tale is now fractionally more achievable.
Famous amateurs to have made a splash at The Open in recent decades include Justin Rose, who finished tied fourth at Birkdale as a 17-year-old in 1998, and Paul Dunne, who was in a three-way tie for the championship after three rounds at St Andrew in 2015.
A new exemption has been also added for those elite amateurs where the player who picks up the most World Amateur Golf Ranking points in the St Andrews Links Trophy, The Amateur Championship, and the European Amateur Championship, will get a spot in the field.
Elsewhere, a total of 34 places will be available through events on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour.
Those PGA Tour events include the Arnold Palmer Invitational next month, the Wells Fargo Championship, and the Memorial Tournament, which each having three qualifying places up for grabs.
The British Masters, Made In Himmerland, and Genesis Scottish Open, will also offer a trio of spots. As expected, there is no special provision being made for LIV Golf players. Those not currently benefiting from an exemption will have to try and negotiate qualifying.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, the R&A’s executive director of championships, said: “We have created an exciting schedule of events which takes in many regions around the world and provides the chance for golfers to earn a place in The Open at Royal Liverpool. We are grateful to our colleagues at the professional tours for their support and look forward to seeing who emerges from each event to book a sought-after place in the Championship this year.”
Will you be taking part in Open qualifying this year? Have you ever reached the final stages only to just miss out? Let me know with a tweet.
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