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Mark O'Meara's trophy presentation ceremony in 1998 at Royal Birkdale took place under a dramatic sky. (Stephen Munday/Getty Images)
Mark O'Meara's trophy presentation ceremony in 1998 at Royal Birkdale took place under a dramatic sky. (Stephen Munday/Getty Images)

Royal Birkdale set to host 2008 Open Championship

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Padraig Harrington will defend the Claret Jug next July at Royal Birkdale on the northwest coast of England. Birkdale will be hosting the Open for the ninth time, and the first since Mark O'Meara won there in 1998.

In 2008, the Open Championship will make a triumphant return to one of its most storied and impressive layouts. Royal Birkdale, long a fixture in the coastal resort of Southport on England's northwest coast, will host the world's top players as they compete for the Champion Golfer of the Year from July 17-20, 2008.

This will mark the ninth time that the Open Championship has taken place at Birkdale. The first was in 1954, when Peter Thomson of Australia won the first of his five Open titles (and first of two at Royal Birkdale), while the most recent was in 1998, when almost 20,000 people watched American Mark O'Meara capture the Claret Jug.

Perhaps the most famous Open Championship at Royal Birkdale was Arnold Palmer's 1961 victory, a feat widely credited with sparking a rebirth of golf's oldest championship by making it a popular destination for American players.

In 1971, Royal Birkdale hosted the 100th Open Championship, won by American Lee Trevino. Other Open Champions from Royal Birkdale include Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and Ian Baker-Finch.

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The course also hosted the 1965 and 1969 Ryder Cups as well as the 1948 Curtis Cup, the 1951 Walker Cup and the Women's British Open in 1982, 1986 and 2000.

Royal Birkdale was founded in 1889 and moved to its present location in 1897. The original layout was modeled on a design by Hawtree & JH Taylor Ltd. in the 1920s with considerable renovations taking place in the 1960s. Another set of renovations has been undertaken in advance of the 2008 Open.

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