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The 149th Open Royal St George's

Pagunsan and Nagano earn Open exemptions


Top two at Mizuno Open heading to Royal St George's

Juvic Pagunsan and Ryutaro Nagano celebrate gaining exemptions for The Open

Juvic Pagunsan and Ryutaro Nagano secured exemptions for The 149th Open by finishing as the top two in the 50th edition of the Mizuno Open at JFE Setonaikai Golf Club.

Two places at Royal St George’s were available to those not already exempt for The Open and Pagunsan claimed the first in emphatic style, courtesy of a three-shot victory in an event shortened to 54 holes due to bad weather.

Bogeys at the first and third represented a worrying start for the overnight leader, who had been three clear overnight, but Pagunsan responded superbly. He did not drop another shot thereafter and carded six birdies in a 68 that took him to 17 under.

Remarkably, Pagunsan's superb display was achieved with only 11 clubs. Playing without a caddie, he opted to remove several irons from his bag in order to make it lighter to carry.

"Since there are fewer choices, I can save the trouble of choosing and play easily," said Pagunsan, who was carrying his own bag for the third time this year.

As a result of his second professional title and first on the Japan Golf Tour, the 43-year-old from the Philippines is now set to play in The Open for the third time, following previous appearances at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012 and Royal Liverpool in 2014.

"I finally won on the Japan Tour in my 11th year," he added. "I'm very happy to be in The Open Championship. This is my third appearance. I'm very excited and looking forward to it."

Juvic Pagunsan celebrates winning the Mizuno Open and gaining an exemption for The Open

Nagano, meanwhile, is in line to make his major championship debut at Royal St George’s, after a bogey-free 66 – the joint-lowest round of the day – lifted the Japanese into second at 14 under.

Tied for fifth with 18 holes to play, Nagano surged up the leaderboard on Sunday to raise hopes he could claim his maiden Japan Golf Tour success.

Although he was not able to catch Pagunsan, his fine performance was enough to finish two ahead of Ryuichi Oiwa (68) and Katsumasa Miyamoto (70), who shared third.

"It's my first major and I'm very happy," said Nagano. "It's the tournament I've always wanted to attend. It's a great honour for me. Until now, it was the world inside television, so now I want to actually feel it." 

View an up-to-date list of which players have secured exemptions for The 149th Open here.

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