British Open standards, three years amount to a fleck of fescue. But for Gleneagles Country Club, it’s long enough to be considered a colony of sorts for golf’s oldest championship.
Gleneagles will host a third consecutive International Final Qualifying event on Monday, pushing the Plano, Texas club past Congressional CC as the site to hold the most U.S. qualifiers. Eight players from an expected field of 78 will advance to the 140th British Open at Royal St. George’s July 14-17.
“Obviously we’re doing something right,” said Brent Halvorson, director of golf at Gleneagles. “We started out trying to downplay it, but it’s really turned into something special for us.”
The Queens Course again will be the only American site and is one of six to be picked in the U.S. since the Royal & Ancient Golf Club expanded to international qualifying in 2004. Australasia, Asia, Africa and Europe also host events, in addition to traditional local British qualifiers.
Like players looking to crack the British Open field each year, potential sites go through a qualifying process. Although it’s been only three years, Gleneagles hopes to remain part of that tradition. “That would be just fine with us,” said Halvorson, who again expects about 3,000 to 4,000 spectators to attend the 36-hole qualifier. Admission and parking are free.
“You never realized the hunger and importance these guys put into an opportunity to play a major championship, ” said Halvorson, who attended last year’s British Open at St. Andrews by invitation of the R&A. “They come on their own time. It’s not like they’re getting paid to come here and play.”