Some big names added a touch of stardust to Final Qualifying at Royal Cinque Ports on Tuesday.
The elite quartet of Branden Grace, Thomas Detry, Antoine Rozner and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel made it through 36 gruelling holes to punch their tickets to The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool later this month.
“It feels amazing to get back,” said Grace, who shot rounds of 70 and 72 for a two-under tally.
“I was gutted to miss it last year. Every Open is special, but an Open at St Andrews is awesome.
“I’ve worked hard and I’ve been playing well. I really wanted to qualify for the majors again to see how I get on.
“I was always going to try and qualify for this one. When you have the chance to qualify for one of the best tournaments in the world you are going to jump on a plane and you are always going to do it.
“It was worth the trip, I played really well and I’m happy with how things panned out.”
Grace – who holds the record for the lowest round in Open history, a 62 – was one of three South Africans to qualify from the Kent course.
His compatriot Schwartzel also posted a two-under score, while a third South African, world number 765 Martin Rohwer, picked up a birdie on the penultimate hole to join Detry at the top of the leaderboard on three-under-par.
Rohwer said: “I don’t really know how to feel. I am going to The Open which has always been a dream.
“I just had the idea in my head that this is just a round of golf, I had no expectations, just play my game and if it happens to be good enough, then it happens to be good enough.
“I am over the moon to be in The Open.”
Frenchman Rozner, who has three wins on the DP World Tour, qualified for The Open in 2021 when he finished T59.
“To be back in Liverpool this year is going to be very special,” he said. “It was a goal of mine this season to qualify for some majors.
“I didn’t manage to qualify for the ones before so to qualify here is very gratifying and very rewarding.”
In line with his upward trajectory since turning pro in 2016, Detry has qualified for the last two Opens, at Royal St George’s and St Andrews, finishing T34 last year.
He found five birdies during a breezy second round at Cinque Ports on his way to a joint-low score of 69.
Detry said: “St Andrews last year was probably the best golf tournament I have ever played in my life, so I am really excited to relive those emotions and hopefully make it better.
“I have never played Hoylake. I obviously watched Rory win there a couple of years ago and Tiger win there, so I know some of the holes by heart just from watching some of the highlights.
“I think it’s going to be a fantastic week.”
Schwartzel has not played in The Open since 2018, but he posted his best performance at Hoylake in 2014, and is hoping for similar weather conditions this year.
“2014 was dry and hot and I hope it’s like that this year because I tend to swing the club better in those conditions,” he said.
“I don’t like to make excuses but when I can play with short sleeves I tend to swing the club much better. I really struggle when it’s cold and rainy.”
He added: “I don’t want to put one in front of the other, but I feel like The Open and [the Masters] go hand-in-hand in terms of prestige.
“Being an international player, The Open is huge.”
Meanwhile, a host of local players teed up at Royal Cinque Ports dreaming of joining the world’s best in two weeks’ time.
One of the hopefuls was Dartford Golf Club’s Mason Essam (above), who was joint-leader alongside Detry halfway through the second round, only to miss out following a disappointing final six holes.
To look back on how all of the action unfolded in Final Qualifying - at Royal Cinque Ports, Dundonald Links, Royal Porthcawl and West Lancashire - visit our live blog.