European Tour veteran Darren Fichardt (pictured) is the next player in line for a crack at The Open. At 121st in the world the Pretoria local has evidently made enough top 10s to present a regular threat on the European Tour, but he won’t be competing at Royal Liverpool.
The 39-year-old has four European Tour wins to his name and has competed at The Open four times, but he’s yet to make a cut at the oldest major. It’s a surprise that Fichardt, who has won in the windiest of conditions, struggled with links golf in the past.
One player who enjoys links golf is Thomas Aiken, who has finished in the top 10 twice in seven trips to The Open. The three-time European Tour winner went as high as tied seventh in 2012 during his career search for Claret Jug glory.
The John Deere Classic played out at TPC Deere Run this week and it was great to see Tim Clark back to his best as he finished tied for fifth. The top result was tinged with sadness, however, because the 2010 Players Championship winner was not ranked high enough in the world to earn an Open berth.
His latest ranking of 156th is nothing to be scoffed at, but he finished 69th in the world at the end of 2013, thus the rest of 2014 will decide whether we see Clark at The Open in 2015.
Across the pond and unfond of travel is Rory Sabbatini, who’ll miss the 143rd instalment of the oldest major. Sabbatini is 79th in the FedExCup standings and 135th in the world, but he’s playing in the US, where birdie blitzes are favoured over clutch pars. The 39-year-old carded a Thursday 63 at TPC Deere Run last week and is clearly coming into form, which makes his missing The Open ill-timed.
There are 16 past champions in the field this week and many more behind them who have put their hands up as contenders for the jug. Only time will tell, but right now the likes of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are popping up often. For the unfortunate South Africans not competing this week the ‘would haves’ will remain, but their chance for glory at The Open must be left for another day.