Ryan Fox may have narrowly missed out on a first European Tour title at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation but the New Zealander had the consolation of qualifying for the Open Championship for the second consecutive year.
Fox had an eight-foot putt on the 18th green at Ballyliffin Golf Club that would have handed him victory in the fourth Rolex Series event of the season but he agonisingly saw it just miss on the high side.
Another trip up the 18th followed, with Russell Knox holing a 40-footer almost identical to the putt that had got him into the play-off for a birdie and a second European title.
That left Fox still searching for his maiden win but the 31 year old was pleased to seal his passage to the season's third Major Championship, having done the same 12 months previously at the Irish Open when he finished in a tie for fourth.
“I really enjoy playing in The Open and Carnoustie is one of the best courses in the world,” he said. “I’m excited to get there and a little bit nervous to see how it plays but I’m very much looking forward to it.
“It’s always nice to play links golf in the run up to an Open and I love the challenge of it. The rough might be a bit more difficult than here so we’ll see what the conditions are like when we get to Carnoustie.”
England's Andy Sullivan and South African Zander Lombard also secured their spots at Carnoustie Golf Links, with places going to the leading three players in the top ten not already exempt.
Sullivan has played in the last three Opens - finishing in a tie for twelfth in 2016 - and he was delighted to be heading back to Scotland.
“It’s massive to have qualified and play in your home Major,” he said. “Carnoustie is a course I love so it’s fantastic to get there and the Open is very special.
“After playing both the Irish and Scottish Opens we’ll be well prepared for links golf by the time we get to Carnoustie. I’m sure it will be a tough test but it’s always been a favourite course of mine so I’m looking forward to it.”
Lombard made his only Open appearance in 2016 after qualifying via the Joburg Open and he cannot wait to tackle a course regarded by many as the most difficult on the Open rota.
“It’s every golfer’s dream to play in a Major,” he said. “I played at Royal Troon in 2016 by qualifying at the Joburg Open and it was amazing. It’s what we play for, to play in the best Majors.
“I know Carnoustie well and I’m really looking forward to getting over to Scotland to see what the course is like after some hot weather. I think it will be a great test. The history of Carnoustie is so rich and some of the world’s greatest players have won there.”
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