Stone, Noren, Shinkwin and Sterne earn a place at Royal Troon at 100th Open de France
Brandon Stone, Alex Noren, Callum Shinkwin and Richard Sterne qualified for The 145th Open at Royal Troon after the final round of the 100th Open de France at Le Golf National.
The 100th Open de France was part of The Open Qualifying Series, which gives players the opportunity to qualify for golf’s most international major championship at leading Tour events around the world.
The four players will join the world’s best golfers as they compete to become Champion Golfer of the Year when The Open returns to the famous Ayrshire links for the ninth time from 14-17 July, 2016.
Stone endured an eventful front nine in his final round with three birdies and four dropped shots. A birdie at the par three 11th took the 23-year-old from Rustenberg back to level par for his round and the SA BMW Open champion finished on a high with an excellent birdie three at the challenging 18th to achieve a four-under-par total of 280 and secure his debut in The Open. Stone finished seven shots behind winner Thongchai Jaidee, tied with Martin Kaymer and Andy Sullivan, who are already in the field for The Open.
“One of the goals this year was to play my first major and this result has got me to The Open. I’m very, very excited about it,” said Stone. “It’s a tournament I hold very dear to my heart and over the last few years I’ve really strived to try to get into it. To get that result in the end is obviously mission accomplished.”
Noren secured his return to The Open after a three-year absence with a final round level par 71 to finish on three-under-par. The 33-year-old from Stockholm got off to a good start with a birdie at the 3rd and picked up another shot at the 9th but slipped back with two bogeys in three holes after the turn. The four-time winner on the European Tour recovered with a birdie at the 14th and, despite a dropped shot at the 17th, will now take his place at Royal Troon where he will look to improve on his best finish of tied ninth in The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012.
“I like challenges, and this (Open de France) was a challenge, so it’s nice to succeed. It’s such a great event and I love to play in it,” said Noren. “I’ve never been to Troon so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve played two good ones out of the four or five I’ve played, and that helps coming into it.”
Former Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup player Shinkwin produced an excellent final round three-under-par 68 to finish on two-under-par and secure his first appearance in a Major Championship at The Open. The 23-year-old winner of the 2013 English and South American amateur championships carded four birdies and just the one dropped shot to finish on the same mark as Joost Luiten, who is already exempt for The Open.
“It’s great, everyone from Great Britain and Ireland wants to play their home Major, and obviously The Open is the one. I’ve watched it almost every year,” said Shinkwin.
The final qualifying place in The Open was taken by the 34-year-old South African Richard Sterne after a final round two-under-par 69. The six-time winner on the European Tour traded six birdies and four bogeys, including two in his last two holes, to finish on one-under-par, tied with Lee Westwood, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Bernd Wiesberger, who are already exempt for The Open. Sterne’s best finish in The Open was tied 21st at Muirfield in 2013.
“I’ve played (The Open) six or seven times and I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Sterne. “The crowds, the history obviously, it’s second to none. It’s what everybody dreams of winning and it’s something that I’ve watched for my whole life. To play in it is a really special occasion.”
The Open Qualifying Series continues with one place in The Open on offer at the Barracuda Championship on the PGA TOUR and the final four places up for grabs at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open from July 7-10.
Third Round Recap
Brandon Stone remains the front-runner in the race to qualify for The 145th Open following the third round of the Open de France at Le Golf National.
Despite a double bogey 6 on the final hole, which resulted in a two-over-par round of 73, the South African retains the first qualifying place ahead of Alex Noren due to his higher Official World Golf Ranking.
Both players are tied for fifth place, five shots behind the outright leader Thongchai Jaidee, on three-under-par. They are joined by Martin Kaymer, Andy Sullivan and Joost Luiten, all of whom are exempt from qualifying.
Noren is aiming to make his sixth appearance in The Open, the Swede’s best finish coming in 2012 when he finished tied for ninth at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The two-time Nordea Masters winner started brightly with a birdie on the 3rd, only to drop two shots on the remainder of the front nine.
However, the 33 year-old responded positively to pick up birdies on the 11th and 15th to ensure his third round was under par, a score of 70.
Nicolas Colsaerts also remains in contention and holds the third qualifying place for The Open. The Belgian experienced a rollercoaster front nine, carding two birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey, before playing steady golf throughout the remainder of his round to shoot a round of 73.
The final qualifying place remains vacant after disappointing rounds from Mikko Ilonen (74) and Anders Hansen (73) resulted in both players dropping out of the top 12 and ties, and are currently tied for 13th place on one-under-par.
The leading four players, who finish in the top 12 and ties in the 100th Open de France and who are not already exempt, will earn a place in The Open at Royal Troon from 14-17 July.
Second Round Recap
Brandon Stone and Mikko Ilonen lead the chase for the qualifying places in The 145th Open at Royal Troon following today’s second round of the 100th Open de France.
Both players are tied for first place on five-under-par with Jeunghun Wang, Rory McIlroy and Thongchai Jaidee, all of whom are exempt from qualifying for The 145th Open.
McIlroy, the Champion Golfer of the Year in The 143rd Open at Royal Liverpool, was matched by Wang as they both posted a round of 66, the lowest score of the day, to move to the top of the leaderboard from their overnight position on level par.
They are joined by Stone, the current BMW SA Open champion, after the South African birdied three of the last four holes to move into contention for the tournament.
The 23-year-old from Rustenburg is bidding to make his debut in The Open and holds the first qualifying place ahead of Ilonen due to his higher position in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Ilonen, who finished tied for ninth in The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2001, retained his composure in blustery, overcast conditions at Le Golf National to card five birdies and only two dropped shots.
Following his round of 68, the Finn revealed that a focus on improving his putting has been the key to his prolific scoring during the first two rounds:
“My long putting has been really on”, said Ilonen. “I had a couple of weeks off, we worked on it with my coach and it definitely seems like it’s coming back to where it should be.”
Nicolas Colsaerts and Anders Hansen hold the remaining two qualifying places for The 145th Open.
The duo are tied for sixth place on four-under-par with defending Open de France champion Bernd Wiesberger, who has already earned a place at Royal Troon.
Colsaerts produced three birdies in an unblemished round of 68 and appeared to be very happy with his second round performance:
“It was very unstressful today”, said the Belgian. “I played really well. I hit a lot of greens. I made a few good up-and-downs at the end and kept it all together. A good birdie to finish with.”
Hansen picked up three shots on the back nine to finish the round strongly and hold the final qualifying position.
First Round Recap
Lucas Bjerregaard holds the first qualifying place for The 145th Open at Royal Troon after an opening round score of 66 secured the overnight lead in the 100th Open de France.
The 24-year-old is aiming to make his second appearance at The Open following his debut at Royal St. George’s in 2011 and got his round off to a flying start by acing the short 2nd hole with a magnificent hole-in-one.
Bjerregaard then recorded five birdies and two bogeys during the remainder of his round to post an impressive score in mixed weather conditions at Le Golf National.
“[It was] a great start and I think that’s what I’ve been needing these past few weeks”, said Bjerregaard. “I’ve been playing decent and seeing a lot of improvements. Got a little momentum off that hole-in-one and it was nice to back it up on the holes after and shoot a good number today.”
Adrian Otaegui, who is yet to feature in a starting field at The Open, holds the second qualifying position after a round of 67. The Spaniard is tied for second place with Thomas Pieters, Bernd Wiesberger and Thongchai Jaidee, all of whom have already qualified for The Open.
The 23-year-old recently finished runner-up in the Lyoness Open in Austria and continued his good form with a solid round that featured three birdies and no dropped shots.
Chris Hanson currently holds the third qualifying spot after finishing the round tied for sixth place on three-under-par.
The Englishman, who is bidding to reach The Open for a second time after playing at Royal Liverpool two years ago, carded a round of 68, including five birdies on the front nine, but experienced difficulties with dropped shots on two of the final three holes.
“I played The Open back in 2014 and it’s probably as close as I’ve been to playing back in The Open”, said the 20 year-old from Harrogate. “I’ve heard a lot about this golf course and heard it’s very demanding so to go out and play really nice and get rewarded has been good.”
Italian Francesco Molinari has already qualified for The Open and could be joined by brother Edoardo, whose round included five birdies and two bogeys.
The 2010 Scottish Open champion holds the final qualifying place ahead of home hope Mathieu Decottignies-Lafon courtesy of his higher position in the Official World Golf Rankings. The Frenchman let slip an opportunity to share the overnight lead after a double bogey at the last left him two shots off the pace.