Australia welcomes The Open Qualifying Series to Royal Sydney
The first qualifying event on the road to The 146th Open began Thursday with three places at Royal Birkdale on offer at the Emirates Australian Open at Royal Sydney.
The 101st playing of Australia’s most prestigious championship marks the beginning of The Open Qualifying Series (TOQS), which provides players with the opportunity to qualify for golf’s most international major at leading Tour events across the globe.
Australian Greg Chalmers, who is three shots off the lead after opening with a two-under-par 70, welcomed the Series back to Australia for a fourth time.
“I really like what The R&A have done, where they’ve done this all over the world at different venues and events,” said Chalmers, who has twice earned a place in The Open through the Series, at the 2014 Australian Open and at the Barracuda Championship on the PGA TOUR earlier this year where he secured a place at Royal Troon.
“It’s a great opportunity for an older guy like me, or a younger kid. Any time you get in a major is a big deal because some players go their whole career playing golf and never get that opportunity.”
Talented youngster Lucas Herbert grabbed a share of the early lead on Thursday, opening with a bogey-free 67 to sit atop the leaderboard alongside fellow Aussie Curtis Luck who has already earned his place at Royal Birkdale after winning the US Amateur earlier this year. Herbert, 21, is looking for his first start in a major and maiden victory as a professional after finishing as Leading Amateur at the 2014 Australian Open.
Several other Australian players are in the mix at the top of the crowded leaderboard including veteran Peter O’Malley who sits on four-under-par alongside Adam Burdett and Benjamin Clementson, sharing third place with New Zealand’s Ryan Fox and Germany’s David Klein.
In the event of a tie for any of the three places in The Open at the end of the event on Sunday, the player with the higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking will earn a place at Royal Birkdale.
Australians have a long history of success at The Open, including Kel Nagle and Ian Baker-Finch, as well as Greg Norman who won twice and Peter Thomson who lifted the Claret Jug five times.