Open dream for De La Riva

3/6/2013 2:25:00 PM
Eduardo De La Riva (Richard Heathcote)
Eduardo De La Riva (Richard Heathcote)

Eduardo De La Riva said it was a dream come true to clinch a spot for The Open Championship as he finished second at the International Final Qualifying Africa at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, three shots behind Justin Harding.

The Spaniard began with an eagle at the first and rocketed to the turn at five under par for the day. He finished the round in 66 blows to take the second spot with his 11 under par total.

“This is a dream," he said. "I am so excited for my chance to play, and I have some good tournaments before we go to The Open, so I want to prepare my game for July.

“For the longest time I have wanted to play The Open, and to finally do it is great, especially among so many good South African players. This was a tough race, this week, but the course was perfect and my game was really good, so I’m happy that it all worked out so well.”

The 36-hole tournament offers up three spots at The 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield and Harding claimed the first with his 14 under par total. They will all tee it up against the greatest in golf’s oldest Major, which starts on July 17.

“I’m so happy to get through," said Harding of South African. "There are about 70 players here and a lot of them have won tournaments, both on the European and Sunshine Tours, and to get one of only three spots is incredible.

“All of us as youngsters avidly watched The Open over the years and I’m really looking forward to my first major. With Ernie Els defending it will be a special one, and I’ve heard that Muirfield is a phenomenal place, so everything feels perfect right now."

The 27 year old found his groove during the two rounds at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s East Course, carding 66 and 64.

“To play in The Open is an experience every golfer wants to have," he continued. "I don’t really have words for it, but I’m sure it will be special. No doubt my dad is already booking the flights, and I can’t wait to enjoy the week.”

South African Darryn Lloyd took the third spot at nine under par thanks in part to a 30-foot putt for birdie on the 16th. The 23 year old said: "It’s always been a goal for me to play in The Open and I’m really glad I could use this opportunity. I live in England and that adds to the importance of this tournament for me. It’s really amazing that I’ll be playing at Muirfield."