Nick Faldo and Tom Watson set to make final British Open appearances
Published 20/04/2015 | 12:40
Nick Faldo and Tom Watson will make their final Open appearances in front of the largest arena in the championship's 155-year history at St Andrews in July.
Three-time winner Faldo has confirmed he will cross the famous Swilcan Bridge for the final time on the 25th anniversary of his victory on the Old Course, having also lifted the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 1987 and 1992.
Faldo, whose 58th birthday falls on the Saturday of the championship, said: "The Open and St Andrews will forever hold a significant place in my heart. My fondest moments on my journey with this great sport are woven with pictures and emotions in this setting. It all means a huge amount to me.
"I look forward to celebrating all that golf has given me as I cross that storied bridge and the wonderful memories I share with many people. I am grateful for it all and grateful to golf."
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson added: "Sir Nick Faldo is an inspirational figure in British golf and has enjoyed a remarkable career in The Open.
"He has delighted the galleries over many years with his three victories and consistently outstanding performances. I'm sure there will be great anticipation among the galleries at St Andrews to see him play in The Open once again and he will receive a rousing ovation worthy of a great champion."
Five-time Open champion Watson, who lost a play-off at Turnberry in 2009 at the age of 59, received a special exemption from the R&A to play his final Open in 2015, the 40th anniversary of his first victory at Carnoustie.
He and Faldo will be joined by the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson in the Champion Golfers' Challenge on Wednesday, July 15, a four-hole team event played on the first, second, 17th and 18th on the eve of the championship.
Almost 10,000 spectators will be able to watch from seats on the first, 17th and 18th, with a two-tiered grandstand created behind the 18th green for the first time and an L-shaped arena behind the 17th green, as well as the traditional seats to the right of the first.
The grandstand behind the famous Road Hole will have a capacity of more than 4,000, with a total of 21,000 seats around the entire course.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director of championships at the R&A, said: "There is always an incredible atmosphere at The Open and particularly when it is held in St Andrews. We want to make sure as many spectators as possible can experience that unique atmosphere and enjoy wonderful views of the play on the opening and closing holes at St Andrews.
"The new arena will provide a fantastic setting for the climax of the Championship at the 72nd hole and will be the ideal place for spectators to greet the new champion golfer of the year."
Several cameras have been implanted into bunkers on the course, with another "turf camera" giving views of the R&A clubhouse from in front of the first tee.