Abraham Ancer, Dimitrios Papadatos and Jake McLeod have secured their places in The 148th Open after qualifying at the Emirates Australian Open.
The 103rd playing of Australia’s national championship took place at The Lakes in Sydney and was the first event in The Open Qualifying Series which gives golfers around the world opportunities to book their place at Royal Portrush from 14-21 July 2019.
Ancer cruised to a five-shot victory on a 16-under-par total of 272 to lift his second professional title after breaking his duck in 2015 by winning the Nova Scotia Open on the WEB.com Tour.
The Mexican made a surge to the top of the leaderboard during the third round with a blistering seven-under-par 65, which included nine birdies, to build a commanding five-shot lead over the chasing pack.
The 27-year-old continued his hot streak during the early stages of the final round by rolling in three birdies on the front nine to go out in 32.
Ancer’s stride was checked briefly on the par-4 12th when he let a routine par putt slip by the hole to drop a stroke, but his response was swift and another birdie on the par-5 14th restored his advantage.
A solid run of pars on the closing holes meant that he signed off for a three-under-par 69 to win the Emirates Australian Open and take the first qualifying place available for The 148th Open.
“I’m extremely excited to be going to Royal Portrush. I got a taste of The Open at Carnoustie earlier this year and it’s a Championship I want to come back to every single year. I’ve never been to Northern Ireland before so I’m really looking forward to that. It’s going to be incredible. I will try and get over there to play some links golf now that I’m in. It would be great to play an event on links before The Open,” Ancer said
Papadatos claimed the second qualifying spot after finishing runner-up to Ancer on an 11-under-par total of 277. The three-time PGA Tour of Australasia winner fired in seven birdies to post a final round 67 and he will now make his debut in The Open when he joins the world’s best golfers at Royal Portrush in July.
“I’m ecstatic to have qualified for The Open. I went out to put a good score together today and to have earned a qualifying spot puts the icing on the cake. It’s going to be awesome to play in my first major and I can’t wait to get over to Northern Ireland. I like playing over there and you get some very testing golf. To get to play with the world’s best players is going to be a great experience. I dreamt about playing in The Open growing up so to get there is amazing,” Papadatos said.
It has been a week to remember for McLeod after he followed up a win in the NSW Open at Twin Creeks last Sunday with a third place finish in the Emirates Australian Open to land the final qualifying place.
The 24-year-old stormed into contention 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.
“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. I played a bit of links golf at the Dunhill Championship and did ok, so yes, can’t wait,” said McLeod.
The next event in The Open Qualifying Series will be the South African Open hosted by The City of Joburg at Randpark from 6-9 December 2018.