After round three at the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, Thomas Aiken and Justin Walters of South Africa and Jin Jeong of South Korea hold the qualifying positions for The 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.
Aiken is a two-time winner on the European Tour and is looking to make his eighth Open Championship appearance in 2014. The 30-year-old has earned two top-ten results at The Open, finishing tied for eighth at Turnberry in 2009 and tied for seventh at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012. Aiken carded ten birdies and a single bogey on Saturday in his hometown of Johannesburg, posting a 63 to move into a tie for first place at 17 under par.
Walters, who was born in South Africa but lives in England, has won twice on the Sunshine Tour and finished runner-up at the 2013 Portugal Masters. The 33-year-old has tried to qualify for The Open on three previous occasions and is hopeful that he will be part of the field at Royal Liverpool. He finished with an eagle on the par-5 18th hole on Saturday to card a 64 and sit tied for first place alongside Aiken.
Jeong currently sits alone in third place at 15 under par after finishing with a 66. He is a former winner of the Amateur Championship where he secured his first appearance at The 2010 Open in St Andrews and earned the Silver Medal as the leading amateur. Jeong was the number one ranked player on the WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKING™ on two occasions before turning professional in 2011. The 24-year-old earned his first European Tour victory at the 2013 ISPS Handa Perth International in December and is looking to make his first return to The Open since 2010.
Finland’s Roope Kakko sits in fourth place at 14 under par, followed by Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth and South Africa’s George Coetzee who are tied for fifth at 13 under. First and second round co-leaders Edoardo Molinari of Italy and Craig Lee of Scotland have slipped down the leaderboard, with Molinari currently in eighth place while Lee is tied for 18th.
The Joburg Open is the second event in the new Open Qualifying Series which consists of 14 events in nine countries on five continents. The format has replaced the 36-hole international final qualifiers of past years and gives players on the world’s leading Tours a chance to qualify for The Open.
A detailed breakdown of the qualifying places is set out below. For more information visit TheOpen.com/Qualification.