Stricker, Gay, Henley and Noh qualify for The Open at the FedEx St Jude Classic
Americans Steve Stricker, Brian Gay and Russell Henley, and Korea’s Seung-Yul Noh have qualified for The 145th Open at Royal Troon after today’s final round of the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee.
The tournament was the sixth event in The Open Qualifying Series, which gives players the opportunity to qualify for golf’s most international major championship at leading Tour events around the world.
The four players will now join the world’s best golfers in pursuit of the Claret Jug and the title of Champion Golfer of the Year when The Open returns to the famous Ayrshire links for the ninth time from 14-17 July, 2016.
Stricker, whose best performance in The Open is tied for seventh at Royal Birkdale in 2008, carded a final round 67 to finish in joint second place with 2013 Champion Golfer of the Year Phil Mickelson, and Brooks Koepka, who has already qualified for The Open after finishing in the Top 10 in The 144th Open at St Andrews in 2015.
“It was fun getting in the mix again”, said Stricker. “I was a little bit nervous, but I handled it well and enjoyed the moment. I played well today and hit a lot of good shots. I hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in and I wish I could’ve got a few of those to fall early on. All in all, a really good week and I’m excited about how I played.”
The former Ryder Cup player picked up three birdies on the back nine to reach 10-under-par for the tournament, three shots behind winner Daniel Berger, who maintained his overnight lead to win his first PGA TOUR event. Berger has already qualified for The Open after finishing in the Top 30 leading qualifiers for the Tour Championship in 2015.
A final round 66 from Gay propelled the 2009 FedEx St Jude Classic winner into sixth place on 8-under-par and he qualified for The Open for a fourth time, having played in 2001, 2009 and 2010.
“It’s great to have a good week here and obviously to get into the top four you have to play really well to qualify so it’s good on both ends”, said Gay.
“I’ve won here before and I love the golf course, so I was really focusing on having a good week, knowing that if I did that The Open would take care of itself.
“I haven’t played a ton of links golf, I’ve played in a few Opens but I haven’t been to Troon. It’s definitely different for us. It’s something that’s pretty cool but it can be difficult to get over there and figure it out in just a few days.”
A birdie on the 16th hole secured Henley’s place at The Open, the two-time PGA TOUR winner finishing tied for seventh place on seven-under-par with Noh. The 27-year-old has played The Open for the last three years and his best performance was tied 20th at St Andrews in 2015.
“It’s exciting. My first three years on Tour I think I missed one WGC event and I was in all the majors, this year I wasn’t in the Masters or in the US Open so I’m going the other direction and it’s nice to get into The Open”, said Henley
“I love going over there, it’s a lot of fun to go play a little bit different type of golf than we’re used to and just be challenged. I love the opportunity, I’m excited and I hope I can go over there and play well again.”
Former Korean Amateur Champion Noh qualified for his third appearance in The Open, having played in 2010 at St Andrews and 2011 at Royal St George’s. The Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion recovered from a double bogey on the 12th to pick up two shots in the final three holes to secure his place in the starting field at Royal Troon.
“This is my first top-ten this year and I’m so happy with that, especially to make The Open Championship. It’s been very special for me this week”, said Noh.
“I used to play a lot in England and Scotland and when I came to the States a few years ago I really missed playing Europe. I really can’t wait to get back there.”
The Open Qualifying Series continues at the Quicken Loans National from 23-26 June at Congressional Country Club where four places in The Open will be on offer.
Third Round Recap
Americans D.A. Points, Steve Stricker and Colt Knost and Korea’s Seung-Yul Noh are in position to qualify for The 145th Open at Royal Troon after three rounds at the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis.
Four players, who are not already exempt, that finish in the top 12 and ties after tomorrow’s final round at TPC Southwind will qualify for The Open from 14-17 July. In the event of a tie, the player with the higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking will be awarded the qualifying place.
Points and Stricker are currently tied for second place on seven-under-par alongside 2013 Champion Golfer of the Year Phil Mickelson, who is exempt for The Open. The trio are three shots behind leader Daniel Berger, who has also secured his place at Royal Troon.
Points carded a sensational six-under 64 on Saturday, tying Berger’s second-round performance for the low round of the tournament so far. The 39-year-old moved 33 places up the leaderboard into contention for a third PGA TOUR victory and a third start in golf’s most international major championship. His best finish at The Open was tied 32nd at Royal Liverpool in 2014.
Stricker also managed a bogey-free round on Saturday, adding a four-under 66 to his earlier 66 and 71 to earn a share of second place. The 49-year-old has won 12 times on the PGA TOUR and has made 12 starts in The Open, with two top-10 finishes in 2007 and 2008.
Noh and Knost are four shots off the lead on six-under-par, tied for fifth place with Brooks Koepka who is already exempt for The Open. Noh, a former Korean Amateur champion and winner of the 2014 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, carded four birdies on Saturday, dropping a single shot on the par-4 2nd hole. The 25-year-old first round co-leader added a 67 on Saturday to his earlier 65 and 72 to sit poised to secure a third start in The Open.
Knost carded five birdies against a pair of bogeys on Saturday to finish with a 67 and a chance at a first start in The Open. The 2007 US Amateur champion has two top-five finishes on the PGA TOUR this season and was a member of the victorious US side in the 2007 Walker Cup that included Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Billy Horschel. The 30-year-old had his first and only start in a major in 2012 at the US Open.
Second Round Recap
American Tom Hoge is in position to secure his first start in The Open after carding a one-under-par 69 on Friday to lead the chase for qualifying places in The 145th Open at Royal Troon at the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis.
Hoge is looking for his first PGA TOUR victory this week and made his major championship debut last year at the US Open. The 27-year-old traded birdies and bogeys in his second round, finishing in second place after 36-holes to leader Daniel Berger, who has already secured his place at Royal Troon. He added his 69 to an opening 65 to sit on six-under-par, three shots off the lead.
Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and 2013 Champion Golfer of the Year Phil Mickelson reached the halfway mark of the tournament tied for third place on five-under-par. All three have already earned exemptions for The Open.
Nine players sit tied on four-under-par, with Russell Henley, Wesley Bryan and Hudson Swafford holding the three other qualifying places on offer due to their positions in the Official World Golf Ranking. Henley, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, has played in three successive Opens and finished tied 20th in 2015 at St Andrews. The 27-year-old former Walker Cup player carded a pair of 68’s on Thursday on Friday to sit in contention for a third victory and place in golf’s most international major championship.
Bryan, who is well known for his trick shot videos as part of the Bryan Brothers, is making his PGA TOUR debut this week on a sponsor exemption and could be poised to make his first start in a major if he can maintain his form. The 26-year-old has won twice on the Web.com Tour this season and fired a four-under 66 on Friday to move up the leaderboard.
Swafford, 28, carded rounds of 70 and 66 to sit in contention for his first PGA TOUR victory. The Floridian has a single Web.com win to his name and is looking for his first start in a major championship.
First Round Recap
Seung-Yul Noh of Korea and Americans Tom Hoge, Shawn Stefani and Colt Knost lead the chase for spots in The 145th Open at Royal Troon after the first round of the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis.
Noh, a former Korean Amateur champion and Asian Tour rookie of the year, opened with a five-under-par 65 to share the early lead with Hoge and Stefani. The 25-year-old delivered six birdies, giving back a shot on the 5th hole to find himself in contention for his second PGA TOUR victory and a third start in The Open. The 2014 Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion had his best finish in 2011 at Royal St George’s when he finished tied 30th.
Hoge managed a bogey-free round on Thursday, carding three consecutive birdies on the 4th, 5th and 6th holes before adding two more on the 12th and 13th. The 27-year-old is looking for his first victory on the PGA TOUR, with his best career finish to date coming at the 2015 RBC Canadian Open where he finished tied fifth. If he can hold on to one of the qualifying places he will make his first start in The Open and his second in a major championship after playing in the 2015 US Open.
Stefani is looking to repeat the success he found in The Open Qualifying Series in 2014 where he secured his Open debut after finishing runner-up in the Quicken Loans National. The 34-year-old, who is a two-time winner on the Web.com tour, had a mixed round with six birdies, three bogeys and an eagle on the par-4 9th hole, good enough for a share of the top spot on the leaderboard.
Knost, who has two top-five finishes on the PGA TOUR this season, holds the fourth place on offer by virtue of his place in the Official World Golf Ranking. The 30-year-old, who won the US Amateur in 2007, is currently tied for fourth place on four-under-par alongside Brian Gay, Steve Striker and Miguel Angel Carballo, as well as Jamie Donaldson and Dustin Johnson who have both already secured their places at Royal Troon.