Three more players will earn their passage to the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake at the Joburg Open this week.
The second event in the Open Qualifying Series takes place this week at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, with players vying for the Joburg Open trophy and the opportunity to play in golf’s oldest and most international major championship.
Three competitors who finish in the top 10 and ties, who are not already exempt, will secure their places in the field for the 143rd Open Championship which will be played from 17-20 July.
The Open Qualifying Series comprises 14 events in nine countries on five continents and offers players the opportunity to qualify for the Open at prestigious events on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Japan Golf Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
Australians John Senden, Rhein Gibson and Bryden Macpherson secured the first three places on offer in the first Open Qualifying Series event at the Emirates Australian Open in November 2013.
Four players in the Joburg Open field are already exempt for the Open, including defending champion and six-time winner on the European Tour Richard Sterne. The South African posted a Joburg Open record of 27-under-par to win the 2013 tournament by a full seven shots.
“The chance for players to qualify for the Open is an exciting new dimension to the tournament for 2014,” said Sterne, who will make his seventh Open Championship appearance this year.
“The Joburg Open is an excellent showcase for golf in South Africa and I’m sure that the players here this week will be competing hard to win their place at Royal Liverpool. The Open is such a historic championship and it is a great experience to play any of the fantastic links courses on the rota.”
South Africa’s Keith Horne (right), who shared sixth at last year’s Joburg Open, is one player who is thrilled with the concept of the Open Qualifying Series: “I like the concept a lot,” he said. “It’s good to have it over four rounds in tournament conditions, instead of two rounds – it used to feel too much like a qualifying round for a tournament, and you got guys coming through who would have battled over four rounds.
“And Royal Johannesburg is a course I know and like, so I feel I have a good chance of getting into the Open this week – and that would be wonderful.”
Robert Rock (right) of England was unaware that he could qualify for the Open in Johannesburg. “I’m going to have to play my way into the Open,” he said, “and it’s great to have the opportunity to do so on a classic golf course. I wasn’t aware that I would be able to do it this way, but it would take a lot of pressure off me if I could get into the Open nice and early.”
As always when it comes to spots in the Open Championship, there will be a host of players trying to realise a childhood ambition – and that will make for a fascinating finish on Sunday afternoon.
With reporting by The European Tour