Ikeda Relishing Return to Open Championship’s ‘Big Stage’

Yuta Ikeda, Chan Kim, Park Sang-hyun and Gunn Charoenkul have secured their places in The 148th Open. Picture by The R&A/Getty Images.

Ibaraki, Japan: Yuta Ikeda, Chan Kim, Park Sang-hyun and Gunn Charoenkul have secured their places in The 148th Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open in Japan.

The Mizuno Open was played at The Royal Golf Club and was the fifth event in The Open Qualifying Series, which gives golfers around the world opportunities to book their place at Royal Portrush from July 18-21.

Ikeda secured his 21st career win on the Japan Golf Tour after finishing on a seven-under-par total of 281, one shot ahead of Kim.

The 33-year-old from Japan, whose best finish of tied 38th in The Open came at Royal St George’s in 2011, carded a closing one-under-par 71, mixing five birdies and four bogeys, to lift the trophy for the first time in front of a home crowd.

“I am very happy to have qualified for The Open thanks to this victory. I was worried I might not be able to play in it this year so it is great to have the opportunity to play on the big stage again. I have played in The Open a number of times and I am happy to be going overseas to compete in the Championship again,” he said.  

Kim first qualified for The Open two years ago after winning the 2017 Mizuno Open and the 29-year-old American, who was born in South Korea, will hope to build on the tied 11th finish he achieved at Royal Birkdale when he tees it up on the Antrim coast next month.

“My goal this week was to qualify for The Open. I may not have achieved a win here but I achieved my goal. I am very happy and I want to improve on my result from the last time I played in The Open,” said Kim.

Park, who qualified for The Open at Carnoustie by finishing runner-up in the KOLON Korea Open last year, will return to play in golf’s original championship for the second time after finishing in a tie for third place alongside Thailand’s Gunn.

The Korean posted a five-under-par 67 that included seven birdies to finish on a four-under-par total of 284 for the championship overall.

Gunn will make his first appearance in The Open after sealing the final qualifying place available for Royal Portrush.

The Thai, who has two wins on the PGA Tour China Series, carded a four-under-par 68 in the final round and the 27-year-old will now take his place among the world’s best golfers at the famous Dunluce links.

Gunn said: “I am excited to have qualified for The Open. It feels like my first ever win. I had a chance to qualify at the SMBC Singapore Open and the Diamond Cup but I just missed out, so I am very happy to have qualified in Japan. This will be my first Major championship and it will be a valuable experience. I look forward to playing at Royal Portrush for the first time.”

The next event in The Open Qualifying Series is the RBC Canadian Open which will be played from June 6-9 at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

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