Three more players will earn their passage to The 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake at The Joburg Open in South Africa this week.
The second event in the Open Qualifying Series will take place from 6-9 February at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, with players vying for the Joburg Open trophy and the opportunity to play in golf’s oldest and most international Major Championship.
Three competitors who finish in the top ten and ties, who are not already exempt, will secure their places in the field for the 143rd Open Championship which will be played from 17-20 July.
The Open Qualifying Series comprises 14 events in nine countries on five continents and offers players the opportunity to qualify for The Open at prestigious events on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Japan Golf Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
Australians John Senden, Rhein Gibson and Bryden Macpherson secured the first three places on offer in the first Open Qualifying Series event at the Emirates Australian Open in November 2013.
Four players in the Joburg Open field are already exempt for The Open, including defending champion and six-time winner on the European Tour Richard Sterne. The South African posted a Joburg Open record of 27-under-par to win the 2013 tournament by a full seven shots.
“The chance for players to qualify for The Open is an exciting new dimension to the tournament for 2014,” said Sterne, who will make his seventh Open Championship appearance this year.
“The Joburg Open is an excellent showcase for golf in South Africa and I’m sure that the players here this week will be competing hard to win their place at Royal Liverpool. The Open is such a historic Championship and it is a great experience to play any of the fantastic links courses on the rota.”
Former champion Charl Schwartzel will be looking to regain the Joburg Open crown after finishing runner-up to Sterne in 2013. The Johannesburg native won the tournament in 2010 and again in 2011, three months before he won The Masters Tournament. 2014 will mark his 10th appearance at The Open Championship where his best finish is tied 14th at St Andrews in 2010.
Dawie van der Walt will join Sterne and Schwartzel as the other South African in the field that has secured a place at Royal Liverpool. Van der Walt won the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa in December to finish at the top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit for 2013. Four-time winner on the European Tour, Gregory Bourdy, of France, who clinched the ISPS Handa Wales Open in September, is also exempt for The Open.
Peter Dawson, the Chief Executive of The R&A, which organises The Open Championship, said, “We are pleased that The Joburg Open will serve as the second Qualifying Series event for the 2014 Open Championship. The aim of the Qualifying Series is to give players from around the world the opportunity to qualify for The Open through leading tournaments on the major tours.
“The Open has a strong connection to South Africa through Champions such as Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen, and we look forward to welcoming the three players who qualify at The Joburg Open to Royal Liverpool in July.”
Selwyn Nathan, Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour, added, “The 2014 Joburg Open will be significant in so many aspects, not least of which is the greater ability of this event to provide Sunshine Tour players with an opportunity to further their international careers through a spot in The Open Championship. The fact that the top three players in the top ten not already exempt into The Open will qualify to play at Royal Liverpool is a major incentive for our players to step up a level.”
Co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour, the 72-hole stroke play tournament will begin on Thursday with 210 players taking to Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s East and West Courses. Following Friday’s second round, the field will be cut to the top 65 players and ties, who will play the final two rounds on the East Course.
For more information visit TheOpen.com/Qualification