The three qualifying venues for The 2012 Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex were announced today, with Dundonald Links, Kilmarnock Barassie Golf Club and Turnberry’s Kintyre Course hosting an estimated 300 hopefuls hoping to seal a spot in the Championship on the Ailsa course at Turnberry.
The 18-hole qualifier will be played across the three courses on Monday July 23 ahead of the star-studded Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex from July 26-29.
It will give non-exempt players the chance to join some of golf’s great names in the Championship with the hope of reproducing the performance of Pete Oakley in 2004, who came through qualifying before going on to win the Championship at Royal Portrush.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, R&A Assistant Director of Championships, said on behalf of the Championship: “We are delighted to bring this most prestigious tournament back to the wonderful Ailsa course at Turnberry, which has produced so many historic and memorable moments in the past.
“The quality of golf courses on display for the qualification stage of the Senior Open Championship, as well as the main event at Turnberry, only serves to highlight the plentiful golfing assets in the region of South Ayrshire.
“We must extend our thanks to South Ayrshire Council and EventScotland for their support ahead of what is sure to be another Senior Open Championship to remember.”
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland, said: “Scotland is ‘The Home of Golf’ and Turnberry is one of the most renowned courses around the world so it will provide the perfect stage for The Senior Open Championship in 2012.
“We are delighted to be continuing our support of such major golf events which has seen Scotland host The Open Championship five times in the last eight years and which will continue with our commitment to The Ryder Cup coming in 2014. Next year will be the sixth time we have hosted and supported The Senior Open Championship in the past eight years so we look forward to welcoming everyone to South Ayrshire for another great tournament.”
Councillor Margaret Toner, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming the Senior Open Championship to South Ayrshire, the birthplace of Open Golf and I’m confident the golden greats will treat us to a feast of golf.
“There’s already a sense of keen anticipation for this fantastic tournament coming to Turnberry next year and we’ll be playing our part to make sure it is an outstanding event, offering a warm South Ayrshire welcome to players, visitors and spectators alike, as qualifying tees off next July.”
Rolex, the prestigious Swiss watchmaker, was recently unveiled as the Presenting Patron of The Senior Open Championship beginning at Turnberry in 2012 and continuing at Royal Birkdale in 2013 and Royal Porthcawl in 2014.
Turnberry has already produced some of the most memorable moments in the history of the Championship, as well as listing many of the greatest champions with the likes of Bob Charles, Neil Coles, Gary Player and Tom Watson all emerging from the Ayrshire links victorious.
The 2012 staging will be third time since the turn of the century that the Championship has been held at Turnberry and if the previous two occasions are anything to go by, it is sure to produce some drama.
In 2006, Loren Roberts won the first of his two Senior Open titles when he beat Eduardo Romero at the first hole of a play-off while 2003’s Championship was a modern classic, as Tom Watson won the second of his three Senior Open Championship titles by defeating England's Carl Mason on the second hole of a sudden-death play-off after a final round of 64.
It was a victory which revived memories of his famous Duel in the Sun in 1977, when he beat Jack Nicklaus to The Open Championship at Turnberry in a Major finale that went down in history as one of the greatest ever.
Watson produced another one of his most famous performances at Turnberry all of 32 years later, when in 2009 he pushed Stewart Cink to the brink but missed out on a sixth Open Championship victory after being defeated by his fellow American in a four hole play-off.
Both Watson and Roberts are expected to be in the field alongside fellow former Ryder Cup players Bernhard Langer, who is a former champion having won the last time The Senior Championship was held in Scotland at Carnoustie in 2010, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam.