Open Championship: The 27 ways to earn an exemption in 2024

Open Championship
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The final major championship in men’s professional golf is here with the Open Championship. Players are putting the finishing touches of preparation in order to be the one player on Sunday to hoist the coveted Claret Jug.

However, in order to compete for the Claret Jug, every player must qualify for the Open Championship. They can either qualify through an exemption or through a qualifying process, similar to the U.S. Open.

As a result, here is a look at the Open Championship exemptions.

Past Open Championship winners

PGA: The Open Championship - Final Round
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

1. Open Championship winners aged 60 or under on July 21 (for all Champions up to 2024)

When a player wins the Open Championship, they have the option to play in every Open Championship until they are 60 years old. That means if you win the Claret Jug at 20 years old, you are automatically entered into the Open Championship field for the next 40 years.

Players are given that option every year.

In 2024, there are 22 past Champions that will be competing in the 152nd Open Championship.

However, the two past champions who declined their exemptions for the Open were 2003 Champion Ben Curtis and 1999 Champion Paul Lawrie.

Also read: Past Open Championship winners dating back to the inaugural event in 1860

2. Open Championship winners aged 55 or under on July 21 (for all Champions from 2024)

The difference between the first exemption and this one is that this exemption is rather new from the R&A. Over the years, the R&A has lowered its age limit for past winners. In 2010, the R&A lowered the age from 65 to 60 for past champions.

As a result, for every Open Championship winner for 2024 and beyond, it will be 55 for anyone who wins.

As an example, if Dustin Johnson, 40, wins the Claret Jug, he will get to compete for another 15 years. But if a player like Tiger Woods, 48, or Phil Mickelson, 54, play, they will still be able to compete until they are 60.

3. The Open Champions for 2013-2023

This exemption rewards players who have won The Open championship in the last 10 championships. It goes back to 2013 because there was no tournament in 2020 due to COVID-19.

As a result, players earn a 10-year exemption for winning the Open Championship, similar to the U.S. Open.

With that, players like Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Shane Lowry, and Brian Harman qualify under this exemption.

Also read: All 23 ways to be exempt into the 2024 U.S. Open.

Performance exemptions into the Open Championship

These next set of exemptions reward players a spot into the Open Championship for their play, not necessarily translating into victories. The R&A recognizes that getting the deepest and most talented field cannot come from those who only won.

4. First 10 anyone tying for 10th place in The 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in 2023

This exemption rewards players who finished tied for 10th or better at the previous Open Championship. This exemption also gives players that feeling of competing near the top to then go after the Claret Jug in 12 months.

In addition to Harman, players who qualify through this exemption include Tom Kim, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Sepp Straka, Emiliano Grillo, Shubhankar Sharma, Cameron Young, Max Homa, and Tommy Fleetwood.

5. The first 50 players on the OWGR for Week 21, 2024

In order to also deepen the field, the R&A utilized the Official World Golf Ranking to give a spot into their major championship.

Week 21 in 2024 came in the final week of May. As a result, the top 50 golfers in the world golf rankings on May 26 earned an exemption.

Some of those players include Ludvig Aberg, Russell Henley, Matthieu Pavon, Nick Taylor, Tony Finau, and Kurt Kitayama.

Also read: Breaking down the latest top 15 of the world golf rankings

Success on the DP World Tour

6. First 30 in the Final Race to Dubai Rankings for 2023

The sixth exemption comes from the DP World Tour and their top 30 players in their final rankings of the season-long race.

Some players who were successful in earning a spot in the Open include Thriston Lawrence and Min Woo Lee.

In addition, Romain Langasque, Robert MacIntyre, Joost Luiten and Adrian Meronk are a few other players to qualify through this exemption.

7. The BMW PGA Championship winners for 2021-2023

One of the big events on the DP World Tour schedule is the BMW PGA Championship. The game’s best players on the DP World Tour, including some on the PGA Tour, compete to win this event that takes place each September.

As a result, the R&A rewards the previous three BMW PGA Champions with a spot in the Open. Ryan Fox, Billy Horschel, and Shane Lowry are the three previous BMW PGA Championship winners who earned an exemption from the Open.

8. First 5 DP World Tour members and any Race to Dubai members tying for 5th place, not otherwise exempt, in the top 20 of the Race to Dubai Rankings on completion of the 2024 BMW International

This exemption rewards players on the DP World for their success this season through the BMW International Open.

The BMW International Open, which took place last week, completes the timeframe of this exemption. Some of the players who earned an Open Championship spot include Laurie Canter, Nacho Elvira and Ewen Ferguson.

Ferguson won the BMW International Open on July 7 by two strokes at 18-under par. He rose 45 spots to No. 16 in the Race to Dubai Rankings to be in the Open Championship.

Related: 152nd Open Championship FAQ: When, Where and Much More

Other major championship success to be exempt into the Open Championship

Having success at the other three major championships also earns exemption into the Open.

9. The U.S. Open Champions for 2019-2024

The players that won the U.S. Open earn an exemption into the Open Championship.

As a result, some of those competing for the Claret Jug in 2024 include Gary Woodland, Bryson DeChambeau, and Matt Fitzpatrick as recent U.S. Open Champions.

10. The Masters Tournament Champions for 2019-2024

Being able to win any major tournament and then earning a spot into other future majors shows the cohesion the major championship committees see in how difficult the four majors are.

Winning at Augusta National is no easy task. Some of the players who earn an exemption here include Hideki Matsuyama, Scottie Scheffler, and Tiger Woods.

11. The PGA Champions for 2018-2024

The PGA Championship winners also earn exemption into the Open Championship.

The Wanamaker Trophy and the Claret Jug are golf’s two most prestigious trophies.

Of the 19 players to win the Open and another major in the same year, five players have won The Wanamaker Trophy and the Claret Jug for a total of six times. Woods did it twice in 2000 and 2006. Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy won both in 2008 and 2014, respectively.

The two others who won the PGA Championship and the Open Championship were Walter Hagen in 1924 and Nick Price in 1994.

2024 PGA Champion Xander Schauffele is looking to join that group. Also earning a spot through this exemption includes Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka.

Success on the PGA Tour earns a spot in the Open Championship

With some of the game’s best coming from the PGA Tour, the R&A has set a couple of exemptions, similar the DP World Tour.

12. The Players Champions for 2022-2024

In addition to winning the BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour, the R&A also rewards success for being the Players Champion on the PGA Tour.

Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith are the two players who have won the Players Championship in the last three years.

13. Top 30 players for the Final 2023 FedEx Cup

Like the Race To Dubai Rankings, the PGA Tour has the FedEx Cup standings. As a result, the 30 players who played in the Tour Championship received an exemption into the Open Championship.

A few of those players who received an invite here include Adam Schenk, Nick Taylor, and Si Woo Kim.

14. First 5 PGA TOUR members and any PGA TOUR members tying for 5th place, not exempt in the top 20 of the 2024 PGA TOUR FedEx Cup on completion of the 2024 Travelers Championship

This exemption ensures that no player is left behind from the Open despite a successful season. It can also be a way for players to make that final push into the final major of the year.

In 2024, Tom Hoge and Christian Bezuidenhout are the two players who qualify through this exemption.

Hoge finished T3 at the Travelers to move up 14 spots to No. 18 in the FedEx Cup standings. On the other hand, Bezuidenhout finished at No. 20 of the FedEx Cup standings to barely make it into the Open.

Other ways to make the Open Championship 

15. The 117th VISA Open de Argentina 2024 Champion

Besides the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour, there are other ways to make the Open Championship field overseas. The first is by winning the VISA Open in Argentina.

Mason Andersen won in a playoff back in March to secure his spot at Royal Troon.

16. The first five players on the 2024 Federations Ranking List as of closing date

Another way is to be part of the Official World Golf Rankings’ Federations Rankings List. This is a way for tournament committees to identify up-and-coming players internationally. These players come from the Asian Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour.

Keita Nakajima, Andy Ogletree, Kazuma Kobori, David Puig, and Rayn Van Velzen received exemption through the Federations Ranking List.

17. The Japan Open Champion for 2023

In addition to the Federations Ranking List, having success in overseas tours also earns a spot.

Aguri Iwasaki was victorious at the Japan Open by two strokes at 8-under par at Ibaraki Country Club. The Japan Open Championship took place last October.  

18. The Senior Open Champion for 2023

The Senior Open is a tournament that is held by the R&A for those aged 50 and above.

Players who win the Senior Open have to wait a little bit before competing on a major championship platform. This is due to the fact that the Senior Open takes place a couple weeks after the Open.

In 2023, Alex Cejka won the Senior Open on the second playoff hole to Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie. Both players were tied after 72 holes at 5-over, and both made birdies on the first playoff hole. Cejka made birdie on the second playoff hole, and the two-time Open Champion made par to win.  

Amateur success to compete in the Open Championship

To sum up this next group of exemptions, players have to keep their amateur status through the Open Championship. They cannot win as an amateur and then turn professional to earn an exemption in this group.

19. The Amateur Champion for 2024

The R&A hosts the Amateur Championship in stroke play followed by match play as 288 golfers compete. Taking place just a day after the U.S. Open in June in Ballyliffin, Ireland, the players were set.

After five days of competition, Jacob Skov Olesen won 4&3 to secure his spot in the Open Championship. The winner also earns an exemption into the U.S. Open and an invitation to the Masters.

20. The U.S. Amateur Champion for 2023

The U.S. Amateur Champion also earns a spot in the Open Championship. Because Nick Dunlap already turned professional, he cannot qualify through this exemption.

In other words, had Dunlap not turned professional after winning the American Express in January and retained his amateur status, he would be exempt.

21. The European Amateur Champion for 2024

The R&A wants to ensure its championship has all generations of golf from the past, present, and future. The amateur golf game represents the future. Winning the European Amateur Championship also earns a spot in the Open.

Tommy Morrison won the Amateur Championship in Denmark in a three-man playoff to earn his spot at Royal Troon.

22. The Mark H McCormack Medal (Men’s World Amateur Golf Ranking) winner for 2023

Gordon Sargent received the Mark H. McCormack Medal for being the best amateur in 2023, highlighted by a low amateur finish at the 2023 U.S. Open. He will be making his Open Championship debut.

23. The Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion 2023

Jasper Stubbs is the 2023 Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion. He won on the second playoff hole at Royal Melbourne in Australia last October.

By winning the Asia-Pacific Championship, Stubbs earned an invitation to the Masters before coming to Royal Troon.  

24. The Latin America Amateur Champion 2024

Santiago De La Fuente won the Latin America Championship to earn his spot in the Open. He also competed at the U.S. Open as part of the exemption for winning.

25. The Open Amateur Series winner 2024

In 2023, the R&A wanted to ensure they were getting the best amateurs to the Open. The R&A also wanted to give an exemption to the best-performing player across top amateur events. Those three events are the St. Andrews Links Trophy, The Amateur Championship, and the European Amateur Championship.

Calum Scott is exempt through this category. He finished inside the top five in each of those three events, finishing as high as second at St. Andrews to earn his spot into Royal Troon.

26. The Africa Amateur Champion 2024

So with that, the final exemption based on performance is from the Africa Amateur Championship.

Altin Van der Merwe used a second round 65 to be part of a three-man playoff. He would go on to win in the playoff to secure his spot in the Open Championship. 

The Open Championship committee selections

27. Medical Exemption

The final exemption is based on any decisions made by the R&A for medical reasons.

The lone player in the 2024 Open Championship field to earn a medical exemption is Mike Hendry. Hendry was unable to compete in the 2023 Open Championship due to being diagnosed with Leukemia.

Hendry won the For the Players by the Players event on the Japan Tour to highlight his 2024 season.

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