The five-time British Open champion telephoned Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, to say that he would be unable to compete at Royal Troon next week. Watson, 54, said that he still hopes to be able to complete in the Senior British Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, July 22-25.
'We are sad that Tom Watson has withdrawn, as he has been a great supporter of the Open Championship, Dawson said. He will be greatly missed by us all and in particular by the Scottish crowds, with whom he has a great rapport.'
Watson won the British Open in 1975 (at Carnoustie, Scotland), 1977 (Turnberry, Scotland), 1980 (Muirfield, Scotland), 1982 (Royal Troon) and 1983 (Royal Birkdale, England). He finished tied for 18th last year at Royal St. Georges, England.
The R&A also received notification from Fred Funk that he has withdrawn from the Open. No reason was given for Funks withdrawal.
Funk, 48, finished sixth at the U.S. Open on June 20. He has made four appearances in the British Open, with a best finish of 73rd in 1992 at Muirfield. He started but withdrew in 1999 at Carnoustie, missed the cut in 2000 at St, Andrews and missed the cut last year.
The vacant spots will be added to the 12 places that were coming from local final qualifying July 10-11.
There are now 140 exempt or qualified players in the field for the Open, with 14 to come from local final qualifying and one each from the PGA European Tours Barclays Scottish Open and the PGA Tours John Deere Classic.