Sydney, Australia: Cameron Davis, Jonas Blixt and Matt Jones secured their places in the starting field of The 147th Open after qualifying at the Emirates Australian Open on Sunday.
The 102nd staging of the championship, played at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney, was the first opportunity for players to book their place at Carnoustie next year through The Open Qualifying Series.
It was a day to remember for home-grown talent Cameron Davis, who lifted the Stonehaven Cup after just over a year in the professional ranks. A five at the par-4 16th was the only blemish on the 22-year-old’s final round scorecard as he notched up six birdies and an eagle to card a 64 (-7) to top the leaderboard and take the tournament on 11-under-par.
“It’s a dream come true (playing in The Open), it’s what I’ve worked my whole life for. To finally get this coming my way is so good,” commented Davis, who finished 76th on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit in 2017.
Davis, who won the Australian Amateur in 2015 at the same golf course, and was part of last year’s winning Eisenhower Trophy team at the World Amateur Team Championships in Mexico, looked to have lost momentum after following up an opening day 63 with rounds of 72 and 74. Davis produced the low round of the day, however, for a one shot victory and will now travel to Carnoustie next July to play in his first major championship.
“It’s my first major, so I’ve got no idea what to expect. I know it’s going to be huge. I’m going to give it my best shot now that I’ve actually got the opportunity. I’m not going to go out there and just be happy I’m there, I’m going to give it my best and play my best golf and see where it puts me against the best players in the world. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m going to try and grab it with both hands and make the most of it.
“I’ve played the Scottish courses on the amateur circuit the last couple of years and I have played plenty of links golf. I was wondering when I was going to get back there because of the way professional golf works. You have to work your way up again, so to get back so soon is awesome.”
Jonas Blixt and 2015 Emirates Australian Open champion Matt Jones secured the remaining spots on offer at The Open finishing in joint second place in Sydney on ten-under-par (274). Blixt returns to golf’s original championship after a two-year absence and will make his fourth start at The Open after playing from 2013 to 2015.
The Swede worked hard for his final day 68 which included a double bogey at the 9th putting him at one over for the day. His recovery was a statement of intention – three consecutive birdies followed by another at the 14th saw the 33-year-old climb the leaderboard and come within one shot of forcing a play-off for the Stonehaven Cup.
“It’s a weird feeling,” conveyed Blixt. “You’re disappointed that you didn’t make some of the birdies coming in today but you’re happy at the same time to be into The Open.
While it is more than a half a year away, Blixt is pleased be locked into the field for The Open, and at a course he is familiar with.
“The Open is one of the highlights of the year, and I love playing over there in Scotland. I’m really looking forward to it. I played The Amateur Championship at Carnoustie a really long time ago, but I remember it’s a very tough test of golf, I know that. It was fun and I have good memories of the course. I can’t wait to go back.”
Matt Jones, who reclaimed his PGA TOUR card in October after finishing 17th on the Web.com Tour’s final money list, got off to a slow start on Sunday after racking up four bogeys after six holes. The 37-year-old managed to regain his focus and begun to reduce the deficit with a birdie 3 at the 7th before delivering a further six birdies on the back nine.
He finished tied second alongside Blixt and booked his return to The Open, where his best finish stands at a tie for 30th at St Andrews in 2015. Jones will also stake his claim for the famous Claret Jug for the fourth time when he travels to Carnoustie in July.
While he is happy to have his spot at Carnoustie secured, it remains to be seen if Jones will be able to play give a special situation at home.
“I played at Carnoustie back in 1997 so it will be great to get back there. I can’t wait but I just hope that our baby doesn’t come that week. My wife (Melissa) is due at that time, so we will have to see what happens.”