After round one at The Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, Justin Walters, Edoardo Molinari and Craig Lee are the players holding the qualifying positions for the 2014 Open Championship.
When the tournament concludes on Sunday, three competitors who finish in the top ten and ties that are not already exempt will qualify for the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake from 13-20 July 2014.
Lee, Molinari and Walters share the first round lead with Alastair Forsyth but hold the qualifying places based on their higher positions in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
Walters, from South Africa, carded eight birdies and a single bogey to close out the first round with a seven under par 64. The 33-year-old has tried to qualify for The Open on three previous occasions and is hopeful that he will make his Major Championship debut at Royal Liverpool.
“There’s only one round in the bank, we’ve still got three to go, but come Sunday if that’s something that I’ve achieved then I’ll be really, really proud of myself,” said Walters.
Italian Edoardo Molinari is a two-time winner on the European Tour and a former US Amateur champion. He was a member of the winning 2010 European Ryder Cup team and has played in four Open Championships. His best finish at The Open was tied for 27th at St Andrews in 2010.
The field is split between the East and West Courses at Royal Johannesburg for the first two rounds before moving to the East Course for the weekend. Walters and Molinari played the West Course while Scotland’s Lee carded a seven under 65 on the longer East Course to earn his share of the lead. Lee is a two-time runner-up on the European Tour and is looking to make his Open debut if he qualifies in 2014.
2010 Amateur champion Jin Jeong of Korea is one of eight players sitting a shot off the lead in a tie for fifth. Defending Joburg Open champion Richard Sterne, who is exempt for The Open in 2014, currently sits tied for 13th at five under par.
The Joburg Open is the second event in the new Open Qualifying Series which consists of 14 events in nine countries on five continents. A detailed breakdown of the qualifying places is set out below.
For more information visit TheOpen.com/Qualification