The R&A announced it has created a new amateur championship that will give an exemption into the Open Championship.
In his pre-championship press conference at Royal Liverpool ahead of the 151st Open, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers introduced the African Amateur Championship, which will begin play next February at Leopard Creek Country Club in South Africa. The winner will be given a spot in the 152nd Open at Royal Troon, with an invitational event for 20 elite women from the region also held at the venue during the same week.
The tournament will be held over 72 holes and boast a 72-player field. The hope is the event will give players from Africa a pathway into the top amateur and professional events, and is part of a wider R&A effort to develop the sport in the continent.
“We are creating a world-class platform for the most talented amateur golfers in Africa to compete against each other and realise their ambitions in the sport,” Slumbers said. “We have already seen talented players emerge from the continent with three recent winners of the Amateur Championship, including Christo Lamprecht at Hillside last month, and hope that in the years to come we will see golfers follow in the footsteps of Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Nick Price, Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen and Ashleigh Buhai who have won The Open and AIG Women’s Open.”
The African Amateur is seen as a developmental platform in a similar vein to the R&A’s joint efforts with Augusta National and the USGA with the Latin America Amateur Championship and Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. Players like Hideki Matsuyama, Joaquin Niemann, C.T. Pan, Australia’s Cam Davis and Sebastian Munoz have been past participants in the developmental events.