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Veteran Singh receives British Open lifeline

Fijian Vijay Singh reached the top of golf's world rankings in September 2004.
Fijian Vijay Singh reached the top of golf's world rankings in September 2004.
  • Vijay Singh has been granted entry to the 2011 British Open
  • If he is to play in the tournament, the Fijian must first overcome a back injury
  • Webb Simpson, J.B. Holmes, Steve Marino and Yuta Ikeda also set to play

(CNN) -- Former world number one Vijay Singh has been given the chance to play in the upcoming British Open, but the Fijian will have to first overcome a back injury.

Singh, 48, was forced to withdraw from the AT&T National tournament last week, but is one of five players to have been granted entry to golf's oldest major based on their world ranking.

The other four pros to gain an Open berth were American trio Webb Simpson, J.B. Holmes and Steve Marino and Yuta Ikeda of Japan.

The positions became vacant because U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, K.J. Choi -- who won the Players Championship -- and PGA Championship winner Luke Donald do not have to qualify for the event.

Past champions Nick Faldo, who won the tournament three times between 1987 and 1992, and Greg Norman, who clinched the Claret Jug in 1986 and 1993, also opted out of playing at the Royal St. George's event.

Singh, currently ranked 63 in the world, finished tied for second place when the championship was previously held at the southern England venue in 2003, with American Ben Curtis clinching his first major by one stroke.

The Fijian, a 34-time winner on the PGA Tour, has lifted three major titles since turning pro in 1982, with two PGA Championships, in 1998 and 2004, and one Masters triumph in 2000.

Australian Brendan Jones is now next in line for a spot at the Open should any additional players withdraw.