Danny Lee, Joel Dahmen and Keith Mitchell have secured their places in The 149th Open after qualifying at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard was played at Bay Hill in Orlando and was the fourth event in The Open Qualifying Series, which gives golfers around the world opportunities to book their place at Royal St George’s from 12-19 July 2020.
England’s Tyrrell Hatton defeated former champion Marc Leishman by one shot to lift his first PGA TOUR title on a four-under-par total of 284. Both players were already exempt for The Open, as well as Sungjae Im and Bryson DeChambeau, who finished third and fourth.
All three qualifiers finished in a tie for fifth place alongside 2014 Champion Golfer Rory McIlroy, who was already exempt, on an even par total of 288 to secure their places in golf’s original championship.
Lee will make his return to The Open for the first time since 2016 when the Championship was played at Royal Troon. Despite a final round 75, the 2015 Greenbrier Classic champion will tee it up with the world’s best golfers at Royal St George’s after securing the first qualifying spot courtesy of his higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
“When I missed that last putt, I felt like I had put myself out of The Open position but I was still happy to finish on even par. I am very happy to have the opportunity to play in The Open.
“I’ll try to go to Royal St George’s the week before to prepare and play some rounds. The conditions and firmness of the links is different. I’m a very aggressive player and it seems like when I play links golf courses aggressively it just bites me back, so this year I’ll try to play a little bit smarter.”
Dahmen, who made his debut in The Open at Royal Portrush last year, claimed the second qualifying spot ahead of Mitchell thanks to his higher position in OWGR after closing with a one-under-par 71 during today’s final round. The American sunk a crucial birdie putt from over 45 feet on the 16 th hole to book his place in the field at Royal St George’s.
“It’s a goal every year to play in The Open. Last year was my first Open and it was probably the best event I have ever played in. It was the most fun. Obviously The Open returning back to Portrush was an incredible experience. I didn’t play very well, but we hung out in the Harbour Bar all weekend and had a blast. I’m just really excited to get back over there.
“You got to play links golf on the ground a lot more. We don’t do that often over here although actually this week we had to play a lot on the ground with it blowing every day. I think you’ll see some of that potentially so we just need to learn how to play the ground a little better. The other thing over there is a lot of times you don’t have the sight lines off the tee. There’s no trees around, there’s no houses around a lot of time so you have to get a little better at playing the course and there’s more prep work for sure than there is over here.”
It was a case of déjà vu for Mitchell who qualified through the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard for the second year running. The 28-year-old clinched the final qualifying place in dramatic fashion after rolling in a 12 foot birdie putt on the 18 th hole to also sign for a one-under-par 71.
“It’s pretty special. I was standing here last year and that’s how I got into The Open. It’s probably one of my favourite weeks of the year. I’ve never been over to Royal St George’s and it’s going to be a true honour.
“It was tough last year. It was proper Open weather and it was a lot of fun because you don’t get to play like that much over here. Now that I’ve got one year under my belt hopefully I can capitalise.”
Despite occupying the qualifying places for much of the final round, there was disappointment for Harris English and Sung Kang, who both dropped vital shots to slip out of contention and finish on a one-over-par total of 289 alongside Collin Morikawa.
The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be The Mizuno Open being played at The Royal in Ibaraki, Japan from 30 May-2 June 2020.