TURNBERRY, Scotland – Tom Watson did say Sunday he will play at St. Andrews next July, in what everyone expects to be his final British Open. He put the onus on the press to question to those on the R&A Championship Committee to revisit the rule that says past champions cannot compete (unless they qualify) after the age of 60.
So we caught up with R&A chief executive Peter Dawson in front of the Turnberry clubhouse late Sunday evening and asked him if the rule might be revisited.
“We don’t do things on the hoof, on the fly like this,” he said. “We look at all our exemptions every year, top to bottom, and we’ll look at this one. I can’t tell you what the outcome will be.”
The R&A used to have a limit of 65 years, but reduced the limit to 60 years a few years ago.
“It was all to do with feeling that we wanted to make sure there were as many places in the field as possible available to younger golfers who, if they are in their primes they’ll have a better chance at competing. Tom is very much the exception; I don’t think we wrote that rule contemplating that we’d have a 59-year-old leading coming down the stretch in the Open.
“We just didn’t contemplate it.”
Neither did we.
And what if Watson had won on Sunday? He’d have received a 10-year exemption, taking him to age 69.