Future British Open Championship winners will only be exempt until age 55, cutting off 5 years
CMC Open Championship PGA Tour

Future British Open Championship winners will only be exempt until age 55, cutting off 5 years

A photo of golfer Phil Mickelson LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 17: Phil Mickelson tees off on the 17th hole during the second round of The American Express tournament at the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West on January 17, 2020 in La Quinta, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Future British Open Championship winners will have five years knocked off of what is effectively a lifetime exemption into the oldest major championship in golf.

Starting with the 2024 Open Championship, winners of the claret jug will be exempt into the championship through the age of 55. That is down from the previous exemption cap until the age of 60. Before an age-limit was instituted by the R&A, Open champions were exempt until the end of their lives (although the R&A could have politely asked players to not return after a certain age).

The change was instituted for this year's championship and announced as part of the R&A annoucing the full list of exemption categories into the 2024 Open Championship. For players who have won the Open Championship prior to 2024, their exemption remains through age 60.

After Tom Watson nearly won the Open Championship in 2009 at the age of 59, the R&A also created another exemption category for Open Champions of any age in the last 10 years. This is effectively a category just for someone like Watson, who might win the Open at an advanced age of their career -- back then, in their 50s, and now in their mid-40s -- and have their exemption otherwise cut off because of their age. For players who now win the Open Championship beyond the age of 45, they will be guaranteed a 10-year exemption for winning.

Additional changes made to the Open Championship exemption categories include eliminating spots offered to Order of Merit winners on the Sunshine Tour. The R&A chose not to add exemption criteria for LIV Golf players based on their standing in the LIV Golf League, but they are welcome to qualify for the Open through the Open Qualifying Series and through Final Open Qualifying.

The 2024 British Open Championship will be played July 18-21 at Royal Troon Golf Club.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is a scratch golfer...sometimes.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.