A delighted Keith Mitchell revealed he had fulfilled his father’s dreams by qualifying for The 150th Open at St Andrews courtesy of his performance at the RBC Canadian Open.
With the top six finishers in the latest event of The Open Qualifying Series already exempt for next month’s landmark Championship at the Home of Golf, ties for seventh place were enough for Mitchell and Wyndham Clark to earn their places in the field.
Mitchell, who has now qualified for three consecutive Opens via OQS, had particular reason to be delighted with his achievement.
“My sister went to school in St Andrews and my dad is a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews,” explained the American.
“I have been very fortunate to have been going over there from a young age and be able to experience the traditions and always dream about The Open. To be able to do it there in St Andrews with my dad and my sister is going to be pretty cool for my family.
“My dad’s only concern this entire year was for me to be playing in The Open and he told me that a hundred times. He is probably happier about me finishing seventh in the Canadian Open than when I won my first event!”
Mitchell can now look forward to teeing it up on the iconic Old Course in July, 22 years on from being inspired by Tiger Woods’ dominant maiden victory at St Andrews.
“One of the main reasons I chose to play this week is because I knew a good finish here would automatically get you in to The Open. It helped me choose my schedule and decide to give it a run,” he added.
“There are no words to describe how cool it is a hit your first tee shot at The Open, to hear that announcement and how they do it. I think I am more nervous on that tee than any other tee in golf when they announce my name. The style of golf is so different than over here and it is great to get kind of a fresh look at the game.
“The opening hole in St Andrews is so spectacular. It is not hard or difficult, the setting, the place, everything about it is really impressive. It is just something that you always want to do and I never forget seeing Tiger tee it up there in 2000. It was a game changer.”
Six birdies in the first 11 holes on Sunday had Clark firmly in contention for a title that was ultimately won in style by Rory McIlroy.
Although Clark then faltered down the stretch, his round of 69 was enough to secure a first visit to The Open.
“I played amazing this week. I played fantastic through sixty some holes. I just struggled coming in. I had a couple of errant drives,” he said.
“Overall, it was a great week and qualifying for The Open is a dream come true, especially in St Andrews. All in all, it has been a great week, and this is the cherry on top.
“I have played in The Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush but I honestly haven’t played a ton of golf in Europe, just one trip over there. Playing in the Scottish Open and The Open will make for a great summer.
“I love links golf. It is fantastic. I think it is the purest form of golf and the fans there are fantastic. I love the creativity and being subject to the wind and the weather. I love links golf and I am excited. It is going to be a fun trip.
“When I think about St Andrews, I think about Tiger Woods making putts. You just think about the great moments that have happened there, the great players like (Jack) Nicklaus and (Tom) Watson. I can’t wait to walk over the (Swilcan) Bridge and be on the first tee.”