Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Adri Arnaus qualified for The 148 th Open at Royal Portrush at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation at Valderrama today.
The Andalucia Masters is the eighth event in The Open Qualifying Series and offers golfers around the world the opportunity to qualify through leading Tour events for golf’s original championship at Royal Portrush from 14-21 July.
It is the first time the European Tour event has featured as part of the series and three places in The Open were on offer to the leading non-exempt players who finished in the top ten and ties.
Bezuidenhout secured his Major Championship debut in style by winning the prestigious championship with a level par final round of 71 for a ten-under-par total of 274. The 25-year-old saw off the challenge of his playing partner and home favourite, John Rahm, who is already exempt for The Open, and showed steely resolve to recover from a string of four bogeys in five holes from the 3rd with three consecutive birdies from the 9th.
“It’s amazing. It has always been a dream of mine to play in The Open and it’s going to be a great week. It was going to be my goal in the next three-week stretch and to do it in the first week is very special. I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s my favourite major of the year and just to play in it is really special. It’s going to mean a lot to me to play in front of the crowd there.”
Rahm was joined on four-under-par for the tournament by Lorenzo-Vera and Arnaus, who secured the remaining places in The Open thanks to their higher positions in the Official World Golf Ranking than Spanish duo Alvaro Quiros and Eduardo de la Riva, who were on the same mark.
The Frenchman holed a 20 foot putt from the edge of the green at Valderrama’s challenging par four 18th for a three-under round of 68 to move to four-under-par overall and ultimately secure his second appearance in The Open after playing at Royal Birkdale in 2017. Three birdies in his opening six holes set the 34-year-old former Challenge Tour number one on his way and par golf from there was enough to secure his place in the field on the Antrim coast in two weeks’ time.
“I have played in The Open once at Royal Birkdale (2017) and that was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life so I want to play more, absolutely. To play The Open in Northern Ireland is going to be a bit special as well. The crowd haven’t had it for a long time so I guess it will be a fantastic experience.
“It’s going to be magic. I remember two years ago at Birkdale it was fantastic. There was so much crowd and everybody knows that it’s a tough challenge so if you hit a golf shot 50 metres from the pin everybody claps a lot so that’s pretty cool. People really know the game and they know the challenge that we have to play and the field is huge as well. They give you back the shots you hit.”
Arnaus cemented his reputation as a rising star of Spanish golf with a final round of two-under-par 69 that saw him pick up four shots in five holes from the 12th. The 24-year-old former Spanish Amateur Champion will play in his second consecutive major at Royal Portrush having finished tied 58th in the US Open at Pebble Beach earlier this month.
“It’s just an incredible feeling to come out here on home soil and be able to play that good and earn one of those spots I mean’s that’s just incredible.
“It’s definitely going to be packed and I’m really looking forward to playing some links golf in front of these crowds and getting another experience under my belt.”
The next event in The Open Qualifying Series is the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit which concludes today.