Okayama, Japan: American Chan Kim, New Zealander Michael Hendry, Australian Adam Bland and Korean KT Kim have earned places in The 146th Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open in Japan.
Chan Kim led the way to Royal Birkdale after capturing a five-shot victory at JFE Setonakai Golf Club. The 27-year-old sealed his win with a birdie on the 72nd hole to deliver a final-round of four-under 68 and finish on 15-under.
The victory capped a dream week for the Korean-American, who secured a place in the US Open on Monday at the Sectional Qualifying event in Japan before lifting his first trophy on the Japan Golf Tour and earning a place alongside the world’s best players at The Open.
He said: “I’ve never played in a Major championship before and to play in The Open has been one of my biggest dreams, just to see all the history there. I’m extremely excited and honoured.
“From what I’ve seen on TV, I can expect a lot of wind, a lot of rain and really difficult conditions. It will be tough but I’m looking forward to it.”
Hendry finished runner-up after carding a 68 to close out the tournament on 10-under and earn his first trip to The Open. The 37-year-old from Auckland, who in March became the first Kiwi in 14 years to win the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, was thrilled to finally earn a place after several near misses at the Mizuno Open including last year when he lost out by a single shot.
Bland will make a third start in The Open after finishing in third place on seven-under. The 34-year-old captured the Japan PGA Championship Nissin Cup Noodles Cup in 2015, earning him second position on the Japan Golf Tour money list and a place in The Open at St Andrews after he made his debut at Royal Liverpool in 2006.
KT Kim is set to return to golf’s most international Major championship for the sixth time after a final round 69 boosted him into a tie for fourth place alongside Australian Lee Won-joon, with Kim earning the place by virtue of his higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The 13-time Japan Golf Tour winner, who was the defending Mizuno Open champion, earned his best finish in The Open in 2010 when he tied 48th at St Andrews.
He said: “The Open is the most loved Major for me. It’s always a new course and a new challenge. I am hoping that I can have a great score and a great chance at Royal Birkdale.
“There are many things that make The Open special, one factor that always comes into play is the weather. At one moment it could feel like summer, and then at the next you have the wind and rain. It’s part of the beauty of The Open Championship.”
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