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Watson heroics force chiefs into rethink

TOM WATSON&rsquo;S sensational performance in the Open has prompted tournament officials to review the age limit for past champions.<br /><br />The limit was reduced from 65 to 60 just two years ago, but the exploits of 59-year-old Watson at Turnberry have forced Royal and Ancient Club chiefs into a rethink.<br /><br />Watson&rsquo;s narrow failure to claim a historic Open victory over the weekend, 26 years after his last, means next year&rsquo;s Championship at St Andrews is set to be his last as an exempt player.<br /><br />But R&amp;A chief executive Peter Dawson admits the American&rsquo;s heroics in losing out to Stewart Cink in a four-hole play-off may persuade tournament organisers to revert to the original age boundaries.<br /><br />&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think we contemplated a 59-year-old leading the Open Championship going into the back nine on the final day at the time,&rdquo; Dawson said.<br /><br />&ldquo;Every year after the Open we look at the exemptions and no doubt we&rsquo;ll look at this one. It&rsquo;s much too early to say what, if anything, we&rsquo;ll do with it, but we&rsquo;ll certainly be looking at it.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure if someone at the age of 59 had been winning the championship, bringing down the age limit would have been lower on the agenda. But we brought it down in order to give more spaces in the championship to younger players allegedly in their prime to compete.<br /><br />&ldquo;Tom Watson was amongst those consulted on the matter and offered his support to our objective.&rdquo;<br /><br />Meanwhile, Watson&rsquo;s exploits at Turnberry have lifted him an amazing 1,270 places up the world rankings, from 1,374th to 104th.<br /><br />Watson, who is set to do it all again at the British Senior Open at Sunningdale this week, was one of 4,000 players without any ranking points prior to the weekend under the two-year system, but would have moved to 45th had he holed his six-foot putt to win on the final green.<br /><br />Champion Cink moves up from 33rd to ninth, while England&rsquo;s Lee Westwood, who finished in a tie for third, climbs to 14th.