James Morrison, Jaco Van Zyl and Rafa Cabrera-Bello qualified for the 144th Open at St Andrews after the final round of the Alstom Open de France today.
Three places in the Championship, played from July 16-19 , were available through the Open Qualifying Series at the event at Le Golf National, near Paris, for the leading three non-exempt players who finished in the top ten and ties.
Morrison finished on ten under par, three strokes behind the winner Bernd Wiesberger, who is exempt for The Open, to secure his place at St Andrews. The 30 year old Englishman, who won his second European Tour title at the Open de Espana in May, shot a final round four under par 67 and will make his second appearance in golf’s oldest Championship after finishing tied 23rd at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012.
“I cannot wait, it’s every boy’s dream," he said. "I played at Royal Lytham in 2012 but to play at St Andrews is even better. It’s the home of golf and I can’t wait to get there now. My goal was to try to have another go at it this week and I have done that. It is not easy to finish top five any week but to finish second and secure a place is even better.“I love it at St Andrews. It is one of the only golf courses where you get that feeling. As soon as you turn up at St Andrews you have that amazing feeling in your body. I have seen all the videos and photos of the stands going up – it is going to be rocking.”
South Africa’s Van Zyl finished two shots further back in third place after a final round two over par 73 left him on eight under par for the Championship. The 36 year old from Johannesburg, who played in the 2013 US Open at Merion and the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club the same year, will make his debut in The Open at the home of golf.
“It’s great," he said. "I played really, really nicely and securing a spot in The Open means a lot to me. It’s always great to be at St Andrews and the history is just absolutely phenomenal. Playing it in The Open is just going to mean so much more. It’s all going to be pretty new. I played in the US Open a couple of years ago but this is a very different feel and I am just looking forward to it.”
Cabrera-Bello achieved a remarkable turnaround after making a poor start in the final round with a double bogey six at the first hole, a triple bogey seven at the fifth and a bogey at the seventh.
The 31 year old Spaniard holed his second shot on the par four 12th for an eagle, birdied the next and then eagled the par five 14th. At the last hole, the two-time European Tour winner holed a 25-foot putt for a birdie which meant he played the back nine in just 29 shots. That took him to five under par for the tournament and was enough to secure the last qualifying place. He finished two shots behind Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who is exempt for The Open.
“It means a lot to me," said Cabrera-Bello. "The Open is my favourite championship in the world. I played the last three years and particularly at Muirfield, I really enjoyed it as I was up there contending for most of the championship. I think my game is in really good form at the moment. It would be an honour for me to play The Open at St Andrews.
“I had a glance at the leaderboard (at the 18th) and tried to have a look to see who were the players who were possibly in and the ones who were not. Obviously there were players behind and they had a few holes to play but on this course the last few holes tend to play quite tricky so I knew if I made it I might have a chance.”The Open Qualifying Series continues with the Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR today and next week with the John Deere Classic and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on the European Tour.
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