Victor Perez, Ryan Fox and Adrian Meronk qualified for The 150th Open at the Dutch Open, with the latter now set to make history as the first Polish player to feature in golf’s original Championship.
In a hugely dramatic finish at Bernardus Golf, Cromvoirt, Perez produced a remarkable display of putting to beat Fox on the fourth hole of a sudden-death play-off, after both men had tied for first place on 13 under.
Meronk was a shot further back in third, ensuring he joined Perez and Fox in booking an Open spot in the sixth event of The Open Qualifying Series, which gives golfers around the world opportunities to earn their places at the landmark Championship at St Andrews from 10-17 July.
Fox, who trailed leaders Perez and Matt Wallace by one overnight, had looked set to triumph comfortably when four birdies and an eagle gave him a three-shot buffer at 15 under.
However, a double-bogey at the par-5 18th left the New Zealander vulnerable and Perez pulled level with a lengthy birdie putt on 17 before missing a presentable chance to win outright on the final green.
Perez may have failed to find the target with his putt for victory in regulation play, but he went on to perform incredibly on the greens in the extra holes that followed.
The Frenchman twice holed unlikely efforts from distance to extend the play-off, before converting another mammoth birdie putt as the action switched to the 17th.
When Fox missed his subsequent birdie attempt from around 20 feet, Perez could celebrate his second DP World Tour title. Intriguingly, his previous victory was completed at St Andrews - close to his home in Dundee - when he won the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Asked about qualifying for The 150th Open, Perez said: "It's fantastic, obviously being so close to home. I've lived in Dundee now for five years and it was definitely a goal. It would be the biggest Championship in the world to win, so you can only win it if you're part of it."
"I think I'm in a position, you know, living there, having won there, playing obviously really well right now, it not being so far away. I think I saw the other day we were 50 days away, just below now, so it's really around the corner, so it will be fantastic. It's a great opportunity and I look forward to it."
Despite missing out on victory in unfortunate circumstances, Fox was still positive as he looked ahead to what will be his sixth Open appearance since making his debut at St Andrews in 2015.
“It was one of my big goals to tick off this year,” said Fox. “I qualified there in 2015 and absolutely loved it, and to get back for The 150th this year is a dream come true and I'm looking forward to it.
“I've played St Andrews a lot since that first year and it's one of my favourite places in the world. I think the atmosphere this year for it being The 150th is just going to be immense. Ben Campbell is in, another Kiwi, so I'm looking forward to joining him in the field and hopefully I can keep enjoying playing links golf."
Meronk, who made his Major Championship debut at last year’s U.S. Open, was understandably thrilled after his bogey-free 68 earned a first visit to The Open.
“I’m super excited. I still can’t believe it, to be honest. But I’m looking forward already to this great Championship,” he said.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am. I’m sure people supporting me back home, my family, all of them are super happy as well. I can’t wait to tee off at St Andrews, for sure.
“My coach is British, so since we began working together he’s always said, ‘The Open, this is the Championship you want to play in’. I’m super excited.”
Marcel Schneider matched Meronk’s 68 on the final day to finish one shot further back in fourth, with Wallace (72) and Sebastian Soderberg (71) fifth on 10 under.
The next Open Qualifying Series event is the RBC Canadian Open, taking place from 9-12 June at St George’s Golf and Country Club outside Toronto.