Royal Birkdale to host 2017 Open
The Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, on August 1, 2010 - by Paul Ellis
Birkdale, close to this year's open venue of the Royal Liverpool course at Hoylake on England's north-west coast, last hosted the British Open in 2008 when Ireland's Padraig Harrington won his second consecutive Claret Jug after taking his first at Scotland's Carnoustie a year earlier.
The 143rd edition of golf's oldest major -- and the only one played outside the United States -- will begin this year at Hoylake on July 17 with St Andrew's playing hosts in 2015 and the tournament staying in Scotland at Troon the following year.
Birkdale has hosted the British Open 10 times and has been a regular fixture on the rotation since its introduction in 1954.
Carnoustie hosted the tournament for the first time in 24 years in 1999 when Scotland's Paul Lawrie won a play-off following Frenchman Jean van de Velde's now infamous three-shot collapse on the final hole.
The difficult conditions that year saw the course dubbed 'Carnasty' but there were far fewer complaints about the set-up when Harrington triumphed at the next Open staged at Carnoustie.
Golf great Tom Watson, who won the first of his give British Open titles at Carnoustie in 1975 and the last at Birkdale in 1983, was pleased to see the tournament back at the two courses.
"I am delighted to see the Open returning to two great venues in Royal Birkdale and Carnoustie," said Watson, the United States' Ryder Cup captain for this year's edition of the biennial team clash with Europe at Scotland's Gleneagles course in September.
"I know both courses are held in high regard by the players and I certainly consider them to be wonderful tests of golf," added Watson who nearly won a sixth British Open at the age of 59 in 2009 only to lose a four-hole play-off to compatriot Stewart Cink.
"When I first played in the Open at Carnoustie I still had a lot to learn about links golf but I quickly adapted to the challenge of playing in the wind and keeping the ball low. I played well that week and was thrilled to win the play-off (with Australia's Jack Newton," said Watson, as he recalled the first of his eight major titles.
"Royal Birkdale is also a fine links course and I have always thoroughly enjoyed playing there. I think the players and the fans will be excited to see the top players playing these courses once again."
The R&A's announcement left open the possibility that the 2019 edition could be played at Northern Ireland's Royal Portrush, which last staged the British Open in 1951 but was restored to the rotation last month.