Branden Grace, Marcus Armitage and Jaco Ahlers qualify for The 149th Open at The South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg.
The South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg was the second event in The Open Qualifying Series and was played at Randpark from 9-12 January.
Grace posted a fantastic final round 62 to record a three-shot victory over defending champion, and 2010 Champion Golfer of the Year, Louis Oosthuizen to lift the South African Open trophy for the first time. With it, he recorded his ninth European Tour victory and clinched the first Open qualifying place on offer for three players in the top ten.
The 31-year-old finished on a 21-under-par total of 263 and he will now make his tenth appearance in The Open at Royal St George’s. Grace’s highlight of those ten outings came at Royal Birkdale in 2017 when he recorded another outstanding 62 to become the first man to record a sub-63 score in a major championship.
Second place Oosthuizen (-18), who dazzled the crowd early on with a hole-in-one at the 8th, was already exempt for The Open and it came down to the last hole of the championship to decide the remaining qualifying spots.
With Jack Senior finishing on 15-under-par, and Armitage and Ahlers in the final group on the same score, world ranking would be used to confirm qualification if the three tied.
Armitage ranked the lowest at 1398 and needed to do something special on the 18th to steal one of the two spots. In front of a packed grandstand, and knowing the significance of the putt he faced, the Englishman coolly rolled in from 15ft to end his day on a high.
With South African Ahlers (217) keeping his calm to see out the hole for par, it was Senior (225) who lost out with just eight places separating the pair on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Armitage’s only other appearance at The Open came in 2018 at Carnoustie when he successfully navigated Final Qualifying at St Annes Old Links. He missed the cut on that occasion but was suffering from an injury he sustained while skydiving. The 32-year-old, known as ‘The Bullet’, will be keeping his feet firmly on the ground in the lead up to this year’s championship in Kent.
Ahler will now play in his second Open after an 11-year hiatus. Coming through International Final Qualifying at Royal Durban in 2009, he failed to progress to the weekend at Turnberry but the 39-year-old returns to golf’s original championship with a wealth of experience behind him and is confident of success on the links.