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Could Welshman Jamie Donaldson have played his last Open Championship?

At 323rd in the world rankings, Jamie Donaldson doesn’t have the luxury of automatically qualifying for The Open Championship anymore. Instead, the Welshman has to use the various qualifying series in place to secure his ticket to the most iconic event in the sport. The reality is that this is a task that’s beginning to prove too mighty for Donaldson – in 2023, time finally caught up with the 47-year-old and he failed to secure his place at the 151st edition of The Open.

Will any Welsh golfers play at the 2023 Open?

Unfortunately, a list of the 2023 Open Championship betting odds doesn’t feature Donaldson’s name,  as once hoped, which also means that no Welsh golfer will be playing at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

The truth is that Welsh representation in the biggest tournaments is not what it used to be. It’s definitely some way behind the rest of the United Kingdom, as things stand. For a better understanding of how the other nations have surged ahead in recent times, keep in mind that Northern Irishman Rory Mcllroy is the outright favourite at odds of 11/2 to lift his second Claret Jug while Merseyside local Tommy Fleetwood is the best-priced Englishman at 16/1.

This will undoubtedly improve at some stage in the future but, for now, the country waits for the next golfing talent to come through the ranks while The Open goes ahead.

As for Donaldson, he’ll have to watch the action at Hoylake from his Cheshire residence. In times gone by, perhaps this would have been considered a bad break and one-off development, but with Donaldson turning 48 in October, the question has to be asked: has the Pontypridd star played his last Open Championship?

The numbers don’t lie

Before securing qualification to the 2022 Open Championship after finishing sixth at the Scottish Open the week before, Donaldson had gone six years without being eligible to play in The Open. Essentially, this suggests that playing at St Andrews on the 150th occasion of The Open was more of an exception than the rule for Donaldson.

Additionally, the 47-year-old failed to make the cut at the Old Course after finishing on +1 after 36 holes. The eventual winner Cameron Smith would card -20 at the end of 72 holes. The gap, as you can see, between Donaldson and the world’s current best players is growing ever wider as the years pass.

Of course, this drop-off in form is to be expected owing to the Welshman’s age but it wasn’t that long ago when Donaldson was sitting at the top table of the men’s game.

In November 2014, the eight-time European Tour winner reached a career-high world ranking of 23rd and was ever-present at the year’s four majors. Notably, finishing 7th at the PGA Championship in 2012 was followed up by 14th at the Masters in 2014 which provided the springboard for Donaldson to reach the heights he did by entering the top 25 in the world rankings for the first time in his career.

New challenges await on the Legends Tour

Admittedly, those days must seem a long time ago after the Welshman carded an overall score of -3 at West Lancashire Golf Club during the Qualifying Series two weeks before the 2023 Open. It was a score that led to a 14th-place finish, nine places away from the top five that all secured their playing privileges for The Open at Royal Liverpool.

If this is the end of the road for one of Wales’ greatest-ever golfers at The Open, the upside is that in just over 24 months, Donaldson will be eligible to play in the Senior Open after joining the Legends Tour for professionals aged 50 and over. While one door may have finally closed for Donaldson, another is about to open in the not-too-distant future.