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The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.

The age at which past champions can play at The Open has been altered by the R&A, while there was no good news for LIV players as exemption changes were announced.

When you pick up the Claret Jug, you get more than just golf’s most distinctive trophy. You get to come back and play The Open as a past champion for decades to come.

Who can forget those memorable moments on the Swilcan Bridge at St Andrews as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Watson said goodbye to the game’s oldest major?

But from this year’s event at Royal Troon, the R&A have changed the Champions’ exemption category. From now on, players who win The Open will only be exempt until they are 55.

Past champions have previously been able to play until they are 60 and those currently exempt under that arrangement will continue to do so.

Whoever wins on the Ayrshire coast this time around, though, will get five years less than Brian Harman, who tamed the weather and Royal Liverpool last summer.


Open champions exemption changes: How does The Open compare with other majors – and what about LIV?

The Masters gives former winners lifetime invitations to the opening major of the year, while all former winners of the PGA Championship can compete. The US Open is the most stringent, with winners’ exemptions expiring after 10 years.

While LIV golfers may be clamouring for major invites, the R&A have announced no explicit changes that would benefit the breakaway Saudi tour.

There were reports last autumn the league had been in talks with the governing body about the prospects of places in the field – with The Telegraph writing they had asked for 12 spots.

But a new exemption will offer players competing on the Asian Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour the opportunity to qualify through the International Federation Ranking list.

The leading five golfers as of the closing date of entries will be awarded places in The Open. With LIV golfers frequently taking up Asian Tour spots in a bid to gain world ranking points, that may offer another route for those seeking to avoid a trip to qualifying. Andy Ogletree is second on that list.

An exemption for the Africa Amateur Champion has also been added. It will be taken up this year by Altin van der Merwe after his victory in the inaugural championship at Leopard Creek.

The R&A have also confirmed Michael Hendry has been granted a medical exemption to play at Royal Troon. He had been unable to play at Hoylake because of serious illness.