Mizuno Open gets underway in Japan with four places in The Open on offer
The Open Qualifying Series returns to Japan this week with four places in The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale on the line at the Mizuno Open in Okayama, Japan.
ROUND THREE RECAP
A five-under-par 67 on Saturday propelled American Chan Kim into the lead after three rounds at the Mizuno Open at JFE Setonakai Golf Club.
The 27-year-old from Honolulu, who was born in South Korea, is aiming for a maiden start in a major championship and his first professional victory. The former Arizona State Sun Devils golf team member is three shots clear of the rest of the field on 11-under-par heading into Sunday’s final round.
2016 Kansai Open Golf Championship winner Byung-Min Cho delivered an even-par 72 on Saturday to remain in position to earn his first trip to a major. The 27-year-old from Korea remains on eight-under-par, alone in second place.
New Zealand’s Michael Hendry moved into contention for a second Japan Golf Tour victory after carding a three-under-par 69 to sit in third place alongside Korea’s Jun-Won Park on six-under-par.
The 37-year-old from Auckland is riding high after winning the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open on the PGA Tour of Australasia in March, becoming the first Kiwi to lift the trophy since 2003. If he can maintain his form the world number 135 will earn his first start in a major at Royal Birkdale.
Park’s two-under-par 70 was good enough to keep the 30-year-old in contention for a place in golf’s most international major championship. He has two professional wins under his belt, the 2016 ISPS Handa Global Cup on the Japan Golf Tour and the 2014 GS Caltex Maekyung Open on the Korean Tour.
Four players who finish in the top 12 and ties, who are not already exempt, will earn a place in The 146th Open from 16-23 July 2017.
ROUND TWO RECAP
South Korea’s Byung-Min Cho fired a five-under-par 67 on Friday to take the lead at the halfway mark of the Mizuno Open at JFE Setonaikai Golf Club.
Four players who finish in the top 12 and ties, and who are not already exempt, will earn a place alongside the world’s greatest golfers at The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale from 16-23 July, 2017.
Cho, who is aiming for his second Japan Golf Tour victory, moved three clear of the field after turning in a bogey-free scorecard on Friday to sit at eight-under-par.
The 27-year-old winner of the 2016 Kansai Open Golf Championship is in the hunt for a maiden major championship start at Royal Birkdale.
First round co-leader Dong Hwan-Lee was less successful on Friday, adding an even-par 72 to his opening 66 to move into a share of second place alongside American Chan Kim and Aussie Adam Bland.
The 30-year-old from Yongin, South Korea is still in position to book a place at Royal Birkdale and is looking for a second start in The Open and another chance to lift the Mizuno Open trophy after winning the tournament in 2007.
Kim moved up the leaderboard after carding a two-under-par 70 on Friday, moving to six-under-par, tied for second place. The 27-year-old is looking to earn his first professional victory this week as well as a first start in golf’s most international major championship.
Bland, who hails from Mildura, Australia, is looking for a third start in The Open after playing in 2006 and 2015. The 34-year-old is a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR Canada and in 2015 won the Japan PGA Championship Nissin Cupnoodles Cup for his first victory on the Japan Golf Tour.
ROUND ONE RECAP
Dong-Hwan Lee, Hiroshi Iwata, Hyung-Sung Kim and Katsumasa Miyamoto lead the early charge after the first round at JFE Setonakai Golf Club, holding the four qualifying places after Thursday’s opening round.
Lee, who is looking to capture his second Mizuno Open title after winning the tournament in 2007, carded a six-under-par 66 to share the top spot on the leaderboard with Iwata and Kim.
The 30-year-old from Seoul, South Korea has two Japan Golf Tour victories under his belt and is in fine form after winning the United Leasing & Finance Championship on the Web.com Tour last month. He is bidding to make a second appearance in The Open after making his debut at Carnoustie in 2007.
Japan’s Iwata is off to a strong start after also turning in a 66, carding seven birdies and a single bogey on the 12th hole.
The 36-year-old is looking to repeat the success he found in The Open Qualifying Series when he earned a berth at Royal Liverpool in 2014 in Thailand.
If he can maintain his form the two-time Japan Golf Tour winner will be in the hunt for a fourth appearance in golf’s most international major championship.
Four-time Japan Golf Tour winner Kim delivered a bogey-free performance on Thursday to earn his share of the lead. The 37-year-old Korean is looking to make a third appearance in The Open this summer when Royal Birkdale hosts the Championship for the tenth time.
The fourth qualifying place is held by veteran Katsumasa Miyamoto, who sits in second place alongside Atomu Shigenaga but holds the Open spot due to his higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The 44-year-old, who has won ten times on the Japan Golf Tour, turned in a five-under-par 67 to enter Friday’s second round in contention for a second start in The Open after making his debut at St Andrews in 2010.