Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Bjorn earns British Open exemption 10 years after late collapse

updated 3:47 PM EDT, Mon July 8, 2013
Thomas Bjorn watched little known American Ben Curtis lift the trophy at the British Open in 2003.
Thomas Bjorn watched little known American Ben Curtis lift the trophy at the British Open in 2003.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thomas Bjorn was one of five European Tour players to earn an exemption into the Open
  • Bjorn held a late lead at the 2003 tournament in England before faltering at the 16th hole
  • Jonas Blixt, who won the Greenbrier Classic, earned his spot through the world rankings

(CNN) -- When it comes to golf's sentimental favorites, Thomas Bjorn would have to be near the top of the list.

The Dane famously blew a late lead at the British Open in 2003 and Ben Curtis took advantage to claim his lone major.

It wasn't a collapse to match that of Jean Van de Velde in 1999 -- the Frenchman crumbled on the final hole and eventually lost in a playoff -- but the Claret Jug was in sight for Bjorn since he led by two shots with three holes to play.

Bjorn's double-bogey five on the 16th at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, England effectively ended his hopes of capturing a maiden major and allowed the little known Curtis to triumph. Bjorn finished tied for second.

He will get another opportunity to win the British Open and his first major after being given an exemption Monday for this year's tournament at Muirfield in Scotland that begins next week.

Read: McIlroy targets British Open

Gary Player: Why I love horses
New golf course at St. Andrews

Bjorn was one of five European Tour players to earn the exemption based on their Race to Dubai ranking.

Since 2003 Bjorn has only finished in the top 40 at the British Open once, in 2011. He was fourth when the Open was once again held at Royal St. George's.

And his only top-20 finish in any other major in the last 10 years came at the 2005 PGA Championship when he tied for second.

But in his last five European Tour events, Bjorn registered three top-five finishes and sits 13th in the Race to Dubai.

Among the other four European Tour players to be granted exemptions was South Africa's Richard Sterne, who finished second at the French Open after struggling on the back nine Sunday.

Five spots went to PGA Tour counterparts based on their FedExCup ranking, with Billy Horschel highest in the standings at No. 5.

Horschel tied for fourth at last month's U.S. Open and won the Zurich Open in New Orleans in April.

Read: Rose conquers Merion

Sweden's Jonas Blixt, meanwhile, led a list of eight players who earned their entry through the world rankings. Blixt won Sunday's rain affected Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia to see his ranking rise from 103rd to 51st.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:47 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
If golf has a reputation for being a bit stuffy, then the Bryan brothers and their trick shots are a much-needed blast of fresh air.
updated 8:18 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Not many people make the leap from teenage market trader to golf pro and fashion entrepreneur, but that's just what Ian Poulter has done.
updated 6:29 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
"Sleep, as far as mental and physical recovery goes, has never been more important ..." says sport sleep coach Nick Littlehales.
updated 5:24 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Joe Miller is devouring his second steak of the day and the clock has barely nudged 2pm. You need lots of fuel to smash a drive 474 yards.
updated 10:49 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
There have been many dark days for Oliver Wilson, but golf's unluckiest loser is finally riding an upward swing of his career roller coaster.
updated 12:48 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
They dress like it's the 1930s and they swing antique equipment that eschews cutting-edge technology -- this is hickory golf.
updated 12:09 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
CNN's Living Golf focuses on women's golf, charting the growth of the sport from royal pastime to multi-million dollar machine.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
"I don't know how to paint happy," says golf's poster girl Michelle Wie. "I think it releases a lot of the darker feelings in me."
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Phil Mickelson of the United States talks during a press conference after the United States were defeated by Europe after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland.
If you're a U.S. golf fan, or Tom Watson, look away now.
updated 7:18 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
A ban on uploading social media pictures from the course at Gleneagles was dropped for the Ryder Cup.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving. Welcome to the life of a Ryder Cup WAG.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Tom Watson has learned plenty in the 21 years since he was last U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but social media is proving to be problematic.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
updated 7:50 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
ADVERTISEMENT