sport

Birkdale to host 2017 Open

Royal Birkdale will host the Open Championship in 2017 and Carnoustie the following year in 2018, the R&A has revealed.

Southport's Birkdale last hosted the Open in 2008 when Padraig Harrington won his second consecutive Claret Jug after claiming his first at Carnoustie a year earlier.

This year's 143rd edition of golf's oldest major will begin later this month on July 17 at Royal Liverpool with the tournament then moving to St Andrew's in 2015 and staying in Scotland at Royal Troon the following year.

The championships will then return south to Royal Birkdale from 20-23 July 2017 before going back to Scotland and Angus at Carnoustie from 19-22 July 2018.

Five-time Open Champion Tom Watson, who won The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1983 and at Carnoustie in 1975, said: "I am delighted to see The Open returning to two great venues in Royal Birkdale and Carnoustie,\" he said. \"I know both courses are held in high regard by the players and I certainly consider them to be wonderful tests of golf.

\"When I first played in The Open at Carnoustie I still had a lot to learn about links golf but I quickly adapted to the challenge of playing in the wind and keeping the ball low. I played well that week and was thrilled to win the play-off."

Watson will also captain the 2014 United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in September but retained a soft spot for the scene of his fifth and final Open triumph and added: \"Royal Birkdale is also a fine links course and I have always thoroughly enjoyed playing there. I think the players and the fans will be excited to see the top players playing these courses once again.\"