Royal Lytham and St Annes snubbed for The 2026 Open Championship
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The Royal and Ancient have confirmed that the 154th Open that summer will be staged down the North-West coast at Royal Birkdale, which hosted the Open as recently as 2017.
RL&SA has not staged the event since 2012, when Ernie Els triumphed, but the Linksgate venue had hoped to be chosen for 2026 to mark the 100th anniversary of its first Open, won by the legendary Bobby Jones.
Royal Birkdale and next week's hosts Royal Liverpool have both been chosen twice since RL&SA staged the last of its 11 Opens.
However, an R&A spokesman told The Gazette: “Royal Lytham and St Annes is an important venue and remains very much part of our thinking for The Open, alongside other venues that stage the Championship.
“We consider a wide range of factors when we decide on future venues and there are many reasons why we select a particular venue at a particular time. We look forward to returning to the Fylde coast again in future.”
There was disappointment on the Fylde when Hoylake was preferred for this year's Championship and that was acknowledged at the time by R&A chief executive Martin Slumber.
He didn't rule out The Open’s return to RL&SA but said the venue was “a bit tight” and “a squeeze” compared to other options.
The size of the venue now has to be a major consideration as the RL&SA looks to maximise commercial success by accommodating bigger crowds and an ever-expanding tented village.
The hopes of RL&SA were boosted when Royal Troon was originally selected as this year's host venue, marking its own Open centenary, though the pandemic has seen the Scottish west coast course pushed back to next year.
RL&SA continues to attract top tournaments, having hosted the Women's Open and Senior Open Championship in recent years.
However ,the wait continues for another Open on the Fylde coast, where Tony Jacklin triumphed in 1969 and Seve Ballesteros celebrated two of his three Open titles.