Schauffele, Streb, Lovemark and Munoz secure Open Qualifying places at The Greenbrier Classic
Xander Schauffele, Robert Streb, Jamie Lovemark and Sebastian Munoz have all earned places in The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale after qualifying at The Greenbrier Classic on Sunday.
The Greenbrier Classic was the second of three PGA TOUR events which feature in The Open Qualifying Series and four places were available for golf’s most international major championship when it was played at The Old White TPC.
Schauffele finished in style with a birdie at the last to top the field on 14-under-par and win his first PGA TOUR event in the West Virginia sunshine. He will now make his debut at The Open and look to build on the form he produced in the US Open at Erin Hills last month, finishing tied for fifth place in his rookie year.
The 23-year-old, who has never been to Europe, signed for a three-under-par 67. Shauffele made an early start with a birdie at the 1st and adding another at the 8th to reach the turn on two-under-par. A bogey at the 11th did not derail the Californian and he struck again at the 16th and 18th to secure his maiden title and first trip to the UK.
“I don’t know how I feel (about playing in The Open), I’ll let you know when I’m there as I’ve never been to Europe,” said Schauffele. “I’m quarter French, quarter German so just to go to Europe and to England will be a really special experience.
“I’ve not heard a lot about Birkdale, I’ve been so focused on the task here. I know there is a tonne of history behind it so I’m excited to be there. It’ll be a new experience for me and I’ll be glad to get it under my belt.”
Streb will play in The Open for a third consecutive time having finished in the second qualifying spot. A tied 18th finish at St Andrews in 2015 is the American’s best showing after missing the cut at Royal Troon last year.
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Playing with overnight leader Munoz, Streb, who wason two-under-par for the day, suffered a double-bogey at the 13th hole, which looked likely to harm his chances. However, the one-time PGA TOUR winner recovered with a birdie on the next and posted a final round of 69 to finish the championship on 13-under-par.
Streb commented, “It’s always a plus to get to go and play at The Open and in a major. It’s fun to play over there. I’ve no idea what Birkdale is like but hopefully it’s not too cold and rainy.
“Links golf is just different. Where I grew up, it was kind of windy so you just hit that low ball and chase it around. Obviously, you’re trying to avoid the bunkers and such but it’s something a little different and fun. The conditions can be a little tough.
On watching The as a child, Streb said, “You get to get up and watch it in the morning, it’s the only tournament you could do that. I spent a lot of time watching Tiger [Woods] and the others and it felt like The Open always provided a lot of drama.”
Lovemark takes the third qualifying spot but was in trouble early on when he double-bogeyed the par four 1st hole. He earned a stroke back with a birdie at the 4th and added further birdies on the back nine at the 11th, 13th and 16th. His final scorecard read 69 following a bogey at the 15th but that was enough to end the day in joint third place and book his place at The Open.
Lovemark, who spent several weeks at number one in the WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKINGTM in 2007, made his debut in The Open at Royal Troon in 2016 after late withdrawals handed him a start. He failed to make the cut last year but now has a chance to rectify that at Royal Birkdale.
“I’m super stoked to be going back and give myself another chance to play well over there,” said Lovemark. “I didn’t play well last year at Troon but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. Last year’s experience will help me get better this year.”
Munoz, who led from the first round through to Sunday, will make his major championship debut after holding on for a share of third place. The Colombian, who is ranked 410th in the world, had a tough day watching his two-shot lead disappear after finishing with a two-over-par 72.
Five bogeys at the 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th and 16th ended his bid to lift the trophy, but the one-time winner on the Web.Com Tour will now represent his country as the only Colombian in the field at Royal Birkdale.
Munoz said, “I was just walking up the 18th and feeling down but then my caddie told me ‘hey we’re in The Open’ and I was like ‘that’s great’. I completely forgot about it but I’m happy. I’m excited for my first major and I never would have thought it would be The Open.
“I’ve only played one or two links courses ever so it will be quite a different experience,” he continued. “I watched The Open as a little kid, I just hope it’s not as breezy as it always is. We’re going to have a lot of fun and it’s awesome to represent Colombia.”