Craig Lee and Eduardo Molinari retained two of The Open Qualifying positions and were joined by George Coetzee after the third round of the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.
When the tournament concludes on Sunday, three competitors who finish in the top ten and ties that are not already exempt will qualify for the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake from 13-20 July 2014.
Molinari is looking to return to The Open after a two year absence where he has struggled with thumb and wrist injuries. His best Open finish came at St Andrews in 2010 when he tied for 27th before playing on the winning European Ryder Cup team. The 32-year-old is tied with Lee at the top of the leaderboard after posting a 68 on Friday to sit at 11 under par.
Scotland’s Craig Lee continued his steady play on the West Course today, carding a 67 to share the lead with Molinari. He is looking to make his first appearance at a Major Championship at The Open. The Stirling resident narrowly missed out on his first European Tour title last year after losing in a play-off to Thomas Björn at the Omega European Masters.
The third qualifying position is held by George Coetzee of South Africa who shot a 68 to sit tied for third place at ten under par. The 27-year-old’s best Open performance was in 2011 when he finished 15th at Royal St George’s in his Major Championship debut. 2014 will mark Coetzee’s fourth consecutive Open appearance if he is in the field at Royal Liverpool.
England’s David Horsey made a move up the leaderboard on Friday after carding a 63, which is the lowest score of the tournament so far. He is currently a stroke off the lead tied for third place at ten under. First round co-leaders Alistair Forsyth of Scotland and Justin Walters of South Africa are among a group of seven players tied for fifth place at nine under par.
The Joburg Open is the second event in the new Open Qualifying Series which consists of 14 events in nine countries on five continents. The format has replaced the 36-hole international final qualifiers of past years and gives players on the world’s leading Tours a chance to qualify for The Open.
Horsey praised the new Open qualifying format, commenting, “It’s an added bonus. I think it’s a good system, a good change from The R&A to do that. It makes the qualifying a bit fairer and spreads it out over a longer period rather than making it a 36-hole sprint.”
A detailed breakdown of the qualifying places is set out below. For more information visit TheOpen.com