The R&A held a press conference this morning at the Greenbrier -- site of this week's Greenbrier Classic on the PGA Tour -- to make a couple of major announcements.
First, Royal Birkdale will host the Open Championship in 2017 and Carnoustie will host it in 2018.
Second, 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson was extended an exemption to play in the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews. It will be the 40th anniversary of Watson's 1975 Open win at Carnoustie -- the first of his five Open victories.
"I certainly appreciate, more than you will know, the R&A for this exemption," said Watson, who never won the Open at St. Andrews. "This is something very special to me to be able to finish out my career. This is the place I want to finish my career and playing the Open Championship."
Barring a top-10 finish -- either this year, or next -- it will also be Watson's last Open Championship. The R&A grants exemptions to the top-10 finishers from the previous year's Open, and to any past Open champions who have finished in the top 10 in the previous five years.
Watson was the runner up at Turnberry in 2009, losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink.