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Sunday, October 27, 2013
Updated: October 28, 2:25 PM ET
New path to the Open Championship

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

The Open Championship is making significant changes to its qualifying process that include scrapping International Final Qualifying events and rewarding qualifying spots based on finishes in various tournaments around the world.

The new system begins immediately and will be in place for the Open to be played at Royal Liverpool on July 17-20, 2014.

As it relates to the PGA Tour and European Tour, each will receive nine qualifying spots, but instead of coming from 36-hole qualifiers in the U.S. and U.K, they will now be spread among three tournaments on each tour.

"We've been thinking about this for some time, and for a number of reasons,'' said Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the R&A, which administers the Open Championship. "First, we think that in Europe and the United States, by using tour events, are going to get a much more exciting buildup to the Open Championship.

"It's covered more on television, and who is going to qualify will be a story line on each of the broadcasts. The buildup will be much better. And the situation today is players have very busy schedules. Offering them the chance to qualify in events they would be playing anyway is a strong attraction.''

Dawson said the R&A collaborated with the various tours to come up with a system that will replace International Final Qualifying, which was first instituted in 2004.

Now to be called the Open Qualifying Series, it will comprise 14 events in nine countries.

Players will be able to qualify on the PGA Tour at the AT&T National, Greenbrier Classic and John Deere Classic. In Europe, qualifying spots will be available at the Irish Open, the Alstom Open de France, and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

At the AT&T and Greenbrier, the top four players not otherwise exempt will get spots in the Open, with one spot available at the John Deere (due to travel logistics as it is the last tournament prior to the Open). Three spots will be available at each of the European events.

Three spots will be available at the Australian Open (to be played next month), as well as a tournament in South Africa. There will be four spots at an event in Thailand and four more from the Mizuno Open in Japan.

Along with 12 spots coming from final qualifying, a total of 44 players in the 156-player field will gain entry to the Open in this manner.

"We're committed to allowing people to qualify,'' Dawson said. "We were very meticulous in looking at the fields we selected. And we feel there is more rigor in this qualifying process. Players will have done so over 72 holes and not 36, as was the case in International Final Qualifying.''

There are numerous other ways to qualify for the Open. For example, those who finished among the top 30 in the 2013 FedEx Cup standings have already earned a spot in the Open. The top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking as of a certain point in May will also get in the field. A FedEx Cup points list through the Travelers Championship will also be in play. Past winners of the Open as well as winners of the other major championships over the past five years are also exempt.

Should a qualifier from one of those tournaments later become exempt through another avenue, his spot will be filled from a reserve list that will go by the Official World Golf Ranking.

The Local Final Qualifying will also be different, although that change had been previously announced.

Instead of four qualifying venues from near the Open venue (with three qualifying spots at each), those events -- now called "Open Qualifying Series -- Final Qualifying" -- will be at permanent sites.

They are Hillside, Royal Cinque Ports and Woburn in England, and Glasgow Gailes in Scotland.