Olympics date squeeze forces 2016 Irish Open out of Open Qualifying Series


It will be back in the fold in 2017 but because of pressure on dates caused by golf's return to the Olympic Games, next year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will not be part of the The Open Qualifying Series.

On Thursday, the R&A announced the 14 events in nine countries that will will make up Qualifying Series for 2016, offering a total of 44 places at Royal Troon from July 14-17.

The Irish Open has featured in the Series since it was set up in 2013 but as it takes place at The K Club from May 19-22 next year, the tournament would end too close to the Official World Golf Ranking qualifying cut off date with the BMW PGA at Wentworth coming the week after the Kildare event next year.

After taking into account the feelings of the Irish Open and the European Tour, the R&A looked closely at the condensed calendar and decided to offer one place in The Open to the leading non-exempt player the top-five at the Nordea Masters, which take places a fortnight after the Irish Open from June 2- at Stockholm’s Bro Hof Slott Golf Course.

As the R&A explain in their press release, the Nordea Masters is one of two new events in the series alongside the FedEx St Jude Classic (June 9-12) at TPC Southwind in Tennessee.

"In line with the Tour schedules, the Series has been adjusted to accommodate the return of golf to the Olympic Games in Rio but is planned to revert to its previous schedule in 2017," the R&A explained.

The Emirates Australian Open, which is played from 26-29 November at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney, will be the first chance for players to secure a place in golf’s most international Major Championship. The leading three players, who finish in the top ten and ties and who are not already exempt, will qualify for The Open.

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, R&A Executive Director - Championships, said, “Over the past two years, The Open Qualifying Series has created an exciting build-up to the Championship as players around the world bid to secure their places in The Open.

"We are looking forward to working with each of the Tours again to welcome an international field to Royal Troon while continuing to enhance The Open’s global appeal.”

The Open Qualifying Series concludes with the ALSTOM Open de France and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on the European Tour and the Quicken Loans National and the Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR.