Fichardt, Waring and Manley qualify for The 146th Open in South Africa
Darren Fichardt of South Africa, Paul Waring of England and Stuart Manley of Wales have secured their places in The Open after qualifying at the rain-affected Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.
The 11th staging of the championship was the third event in The Open Qualifying Series for The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale which will be played from 16-23 July, 2017. The Series offers 44 places in golf’s most international major championship at leading Tour events across the globe.
The event was reduced to 54 holes after thunderstorms during the third round on Saturday afternoon rendered the East Course unplayable. Conditions for golf were far more favourable on Sunday ensuring that the championship was completed.
Fichardt clinched the title in fine fashion with a birdie on the final hole to post a round of 68 (-4) and win by one shot.
The 41-year-old finished on 15-under-par to become the eighth South African golfer to win the Joburg Open. Only three of the event’s eleven champions have come from outside of South Africa.
“I love Royal Birkdale and I am really looking forward to The Open. I’ve played in The Open before but not had much success unfortunately,” said Fichardt.
“It’s a real honour to be in there already and you can start planning for it. Normally with pre-qualifying you only have two weeks so it’s good to have qualified already.”
He will now make his sixth appearance in The Open this July and his first since he played at St Andrews in 2010 when fellow countryman Louis Oosthuizen became Champion Golfer of the Year.
Waring and Manley will also take their places at Royal Birkdale after finishing tied for second place on 14-under-par.
Waring, who hails from Merseyside in the north west of England, will become a local favourite when he returns to The Open for the first time since it was last staged at the famous Southport links in 2008.
“I’m absolutely made up to be going back to Royal Birkdale,” said Waring. “I’ve got some great memories from there, I played on the Sunday with [Phil] Mickelson last time so I am more than happy to be going back.”
His round started in prolific form, holing an eagle on the first to take the lead in the championship. Four further birdies raised hopes of a first professional title but three bogeys denied him the opportunity to clinch the win.
Manley will make his debut in The Open after carding a 67 (-5) to qualify for his first major championship. The Welshman equalled his best-ever finish in a professional event following a second place finish at the Hong Kong Open in 2013.
“I’m really chuffed to be playing in my first Major, I’m really excited. I’ve been trying for many years through pre-qualifying so to get there, I’m pretty pleased,” he said.
“The Open is massive and I can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into that golf course. I’ve never experienced anything as big as The Open before but I can’t wait for it.”
The next event in The Open Qualifying Series is the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open in Japan from 25-28 May 2017. Four players who finish in the top 12 and ties, and who are not otherwise exempt, will earn places at The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.