One of the world’s great sporting events will return to the south east of England in 2020, when the 149th Open is played at Royal St George’s from July 16-19.
The Open was last played at the Sandwich-based club in 2011, when Darren Clarke held of the challenge of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson to become Champion Golfer of the Year. It will be the 15th time that the club has hosted golf’s oldest major.
“It was an unbelievable feeling to lift the Claret Jug and know that my name was displayed on the trophy alongside so many of the greatest players ever to play the game,” said Clarke. “The Open is what it is all about for me as a golfer and it is the championship I always dreamt of winning from when I first took up the game as a kid. I have so many wonderful memories from that week at Sandwich, and I will be thrilled to go back there for The Open in three years’ time.”
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: “We are very much looking forward to the return of The Open to Royal St George’s in 2020. The Open is a true celebration of sport and the global spotlight will fall once again on Sandwich. Royal St George’s has produced a series of outstanding champion golfers over the last 120 years and it is a thrilling prospect for golf fans to see the greatest players competing on one of the world’s finest links courses.”
James Furber, the captain of Royal St George’s, said: “We are delighted and honoured to be invited to host The Open in 2020. This is tremendous news for the club and a wonderful commercial opportunity for Sandwich and Kent. The club is most grateful to all those in the local authorities and the local MP’s who have worked so hard with us over the last few years to bring this about. We look forward to working with The R&A and others over the next three years to deliver one of the world’s most prestigious championships in 2020.”
Royal St George’s first hosted The Open in 1894 and it was the first occasion on which the championship was played outside of Scotland. The 35th Open was won by JH Taylor, who became the first English professional to win the championship. Over the years, the historic links has seen some of golf’s greatest players lift the Claret Jug, including Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton, Bobby Locke, Sandy Lyle and Greg Norman, who secured a two-shot victory over Sir Nick Faldo in 1993.
Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that we have secured The Open in 2020 at Royal St George’s. In 2011, there were over 180,000 visitors to The Open, and an extra 37,000 passengers travelled on the special high speed train service from London St Pancras. The benefits to the tourist economy was massive, amounting to over £64 million.”