Nicklaus returns for the Open

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The Independent Online
Jack Nicklaus will extend his unbroken run in the majors to 139 when he tees off in the 124th Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes on 18 July.

Tournament organisers yesterday confirmed that Nicklaus, who won the Open in 1966 and 1978, had decided to enter the event after his solid performance earlier this month in the US Open. Nicklaus, 56, had said he would not make the trip to England unless he felt that he could be competitive.

Nicklaus will be joined by 11 other former Open champions, including Americans Mark Calcavecchia (1989), five-times winner Tom Watson and the defending champion, John Daly.

The other former champions in the record entry of 1,919 are Bob Charles, winner in 1963, Gary Player, who won in 1974, Sandy Lyle champion in 1985, Greg Norman (1986 and 1993), Nick Faldo (1987, 1990 and 1992), Ian Baker- Finch (1991), Nick Price (1994) and Seve Ballesteros (1979, 1984 and 1988).

Ballesteros, who won at Royal Lytham in 1979 and 1988, will be bidding to become the first player to win the Open three times in a row at the same venue since Scotland's Tom Morris Jnr managed it at Prestwick in 1870.

The US Open champion, Steve Jones, is also in the list of 93 players who are guaranteed a place in the final 156. "It is another wonderful entry, not only with unparalleled strength in depth, but also full of interest," said Michael Bonallack, the secretary of the Royal and Ancient club.

"We are delighted that Gary Player will contest his 42nd straight Open, and that Jack Nicklaus will extend his long unbroken run in the majors to 139."

Spain's Sergio Garcia, at 16, will become the youngest Open participant since Ireland's Ronan Rafferty first appeared in 1980.