Justin Walters, like George Coetzee, played his way into the Open Championship at the Joburg Open in February where he finished in a share of second with Jin Jeong of South Korean and Tyrell Hatton of England.
Jeong and Walters, by virtue of their higher positions on the Official World Golf Rankings, were the two who got in according to the rules of the Open Qualifying Series.
Thirty-three year old Walters, who was born in South Africa but lives in England, had tried to qualify on three previous occasions and was elated to be part of the field at Royal Liverpool.
“Coming down 18 I didn’t know the situation so I was quite nervous with the last putt but afterwards I found out that it was based on the world rankings and I had snuck into the Open,” he said. “Since I can remember I’ve always wanted to play in the Open. I watched it on TV for the last ten years and just wanted to tee it up. I remember watching Tiger in 2006 at Hoylake and I’m definitely going to play a few extra practice rounds there.”
Twice a winner on the Sunshine Tour, he provided one of the most emotional moments of last season’s European Tour. Two weeks after his mother’s death he sank a closing 40-foot par putt to secure second place at the Portugal Masters and secured his card for 2014.
It’s been a quiet year on the European Tour for Walters since the Joburg Open – he has made just four cuts, and he and his partner are about to have their first child to distract him further ahead of the Open – but such has been his determination to do well in his first Open appearance, that it won’t be a surprise to see him perform well.