America's Kent Bulle books place at The Open after successful defence of Open de Argentina
America's Kent Bulle booked himself a place at The Open with a successful defence of the 111TH Visa Open de Argentina presented by OSDE at Olivos Golf Club on Sunday.
It is the first time in the event’s its long and illustrious history – it was first held in 1905 – that the winner gains an exemption to The Open.
Bulle, who held a 54-hole two-shot lead, carded a level-par final round to finish on 9-under-par alongside fellow countrymen Nathan Lashley and James Beck III. Bulle and Lashley made birdie fours at the first extra hole to eliminate Beck III, before Bulle repeated the feat at the second time to confirm the victory.
“It feels incredible right now,” said Bulle. “It didn’t feel great a couple of hours ago when I was trying to come down the stretch and win. But that’s why I came back, specially with The Open Championship exemption on the line. I love it here, so it was good to get back, to get in contention and get it done.”
The 28-year-old first claimed the trophy 12 months ago during a season which saw him finish second in the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica rankings and earn promotion to the Web.com Tour, the only American to do so as part of Los Cinco – the Tour's top five players.
Hailing from Glasgow – although Glasgow, Kentucky rather than Glasgow, Scotland, - Bulle is excited about making his first start in The Open next July.
“As a kid I would get up at 2-3 o’clock in the morning to watch coverage because of the time difference at home. That’s kind of been a tradition of mine to always wake up and watch Thursday morning, watch the first tee shot.
“Now I don’t think it has sunk in that I’m actually going to be there playing at Royal Birkdale at The Open Championship. It’s going to be incredible and I can’t wait to be there.”
In becoming a multiple winner of the Open de Argentina Bulle joins elite company. The last man to go back-to-back was the two-time major championship winner Ángel Cabrera, and before him the last man to win the title more than once was the 1989 Champion Golfer of the Year Mark Calcavecchia.
Moreover no-one has won the title more often than nine-time victor Roberto de Vicenzo, who famously became the first, and so far only, Argentinian winner of The Open when he lifted the Claret Jug in 1967 at Hoylake.
The connection between Argentina and The Open stretches back to 1926 when Jose Jurado became the first Argentinian to compete in the Championsip. He finished eighth at Royal Lytham & St Annes that year, led until the latter stages in 1928 at Royal St George's and was second to Tommy Armour in 1931.
Bulle will not be playing links golf for the first time next July. Indeed, he cites Prestwick, Turnberry and The Old Course at St Andrews as three of his favourite courses.
However, he does possess very little experience at the highest level, with his only start on the PGA TOUR in this year's US Open at Oakmont where he missed the cut after rounds of 76-74.
“I’ve kind of seen that stage a little bit and I’m little more prepared than I was. I know The Open Championship will be a different feel than the US Open, but I’m just excited to have that opportunity.”
The Open Qualifying Series, which offers 44 places in golf's most international major at leading Tour events across the world, will continue with the SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club from 19-22 January.