The Open Qualifying Series is up and running, as three men booked their place at Royal Portrush at the Australian Open.
Taking place at The Lakes in Sydney – Abraham Ancer, Dimitrios Papadatos and Jake McLeod finished as the top three to qualify for The 148th Open next July.
But who are the three men who will be teeing it up in Royal Portrush? We will be profiling each of the qualifiers – rounding off our series with third-placed McLeod.
A product of peaceful Far North Queensland, the youngster competed in state amateur tournaments alongside Brisbane’s Cameron Smith – the world number 33. Having turned professional in 2015, McLeod underlined his ability to perform on home soil with a fourth-placed finish at the Isuzu Queensland Open. The Aussie soon proved himself in the cut and thrust of PGA Australasia, recording four top-10 finishes in two seasons, including eighth at the Western Australia Championship.
A flying start to 2017 saw him claim second place in the Oates Victoria Open in February, including a stunning second-round 61 followed by ninth at the Victorian PGA. Yet, after missing the cut at the 2018 edition of the Victorian PGA this month and having endured an inconsistent season, not even McLeod himself could have seen what was coming.
McLeod pulled the best golf of his career out of the bag, surging to a first tour victory at the NSW Open at Twin Creeks in Sydney.
The Queenslander put on a Saturday show to remember with a course-record 62 seeing him grasp the initiative in style. Going into Sunday with the lead, the controversy of a single stroke penalty on the fourth hole – for leaving the ball on the lip of cup for too long – could have rocked him.
He held off the challenge of Cameron John to claim his maiden title, which sent him into The Open Qualifying Series brimming with confidence.
“I'm absolutely stoked right now. To qualify for The Open is unreal.” Jake mcleod
McLeod followed up his Twin Creeks triumph with a fine closing round at the Australian Open to secure the third and the final spot at The Open.
The 24-year-old stormed into contention at the Lakes with a six-under-par round 66, including eight birdies, to finish on a 10-under-par total of 278.With the likes of three-time European Tour winner Marcus Fraser and Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship runner-up Keita Nakajima unable to catch him, McLeod will now make his first appearance in a major championship at Royal Portrush after finishing in outright third place.And for the young star, strutting his stuff in Northern Ireland next year will see him live out a childhood dream.
McLeod said: “I’m absolutely stoked right now. To qualify for The Open is unreal.
“It’s going to be special to play in my first major championship, especially in Northern Ireland as I’ve never been there before. I can’t wait to get there.
“I’ve wanted to play in majors like The Open ever since I was a little kid and for this to be my first appearance, it’s going to be so special. I’m nervous already.”