The European Seniors Tour and The R&A have announced the three qualifying venues for The 2006 Senior British Open Championship, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management, which will take place over the Ailsa Course at The Westin Turnberry Resort, Scotland, from July 27-30.
In the region of 300 players will head to Dundonald, the Kintyre Course at Turnberry and The Irvine Golf Club on Monday July 24 in the hope of landing a place in a star-studded field for the 20th edition of the Championship.
Defending champion this July - in a tournament again jointly sanctioned by The R&A, the European Seniors Tour and the US Champions Tour, and featuring a prize fund of £1 million - will be Tom Watson, who defeated Ireland’s Des Smyth in a sudden-death play-off at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club last year to reclaim the prize he first won at Turnberry in 2003.
In between Watson’s two Senior British Open Championship successes came the victory by American Pete Oakley in the 2004 Championship. Oakley produced the biggest upset in the history of the event when he triumphed by one stroke at Royal Portrush to become the first qualifier to go on to lift the prestigious trophy – something that should inspire those heading to Dundonald, Kintyre and The Irvine Golf Club this year.
Designed by Kyle Phillips and situated near Troon, Dundonald is under the same ownership as Loch Lomond Golf Club and measures 7,300 yards off the Championship tees. It has already won many plaudits and is regarded as one of the best new courses in the world.
Kintyre opened at Turnberry in 2002 and has hosted qualifying for The Open Championship (2004) and The Senior British Open Championship (2003). Designed by Donald Steel and measuring 6,758 yards, the par 72 layout is links golf at its exhilarating best, all with stunning views of Kintyre, Arran, and the famous Turnberry Lighthouse.
The links at The Irvine Golf Club, located to the north east of Irvine, is by some margin the most established of the three, owing much of its present day character to the design work of James Braid in 1926. The course measures 6,461 yards, par 71, and has been used for Open qualifying on several occasions.
Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour, commented: “We are delighted to have secured these three outstanding courses for what is always an exciting and nerve-jangling start to The Senior British Open Championship, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management.
“The Championship will undoubtedly be a highlight of the golfing year and one which will not only bring the cream of Seniors talent to the west coast of Scotland, but also considerable economic benefits for the surrounding community.”