[PHOTO: Bill Murray/SNS Group]

Golfers who win future Open Championships can no longer count on playing the tournament into their sixties.

Overnight, Australian time, the R&A announced changes to its exemption categories, and among those were that those who capture the claret jug beginning in 2024 will be exempt through the age of 55. The previous age limit was 60, and those who have already won The Open will be grandfathered in to be able to play until 60.

Those in their fifties and sixties have rarely contended in major championships, though it was a then-59-year-old Tom Watson who nearly won the 2009 Open at Turnberry before losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

The R&A also said it is offering new exemptions to players on the Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour. The top five players in the International Federation ranking list will earn spots in The Open, as well as the Africa Amateur Championship winner.

Michael Hendry: Down But Not Out

New Zealand’s Michael Hendry has been granted a medical exemption for this year’s Open at Royal Troon after he missed last year’s championship following his leukaemia diagnosis last April.

No exemptions have been announced for LIV players who haven’t otherwise qualified for The Open. Those from the Saudi-run tour who are already exempt include: Dean Burmester, Bryson DeChambeau. Tyrrell Hatton, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Adrian Meronk, Phil Mickelson, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, David Puig, Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith and Henrik Stenson.