Matt Jones, Aaron Pike and World No.1 amateur Takumi Kanaya have secured their places in The 149th Open Championship after qualifying at the Emirates Australian Open.
The 104th Australian Open at The Australian Golf Club was the first event in The Open Qualifying Series, which gives golfers around the world opportunities to book their place at Royal St George’s from July 16 to 19, 2020.
Playing his home course, Matt Jones recorded a one-shot victory on a 15-under-par total of 269 to secure his second Australian Open title after winning at The Australian Golf Club in 2015.
This is the third time Jones has earned a place in The Open via The Open Qualifying Series, having qualified for The 145th Open at Royal Troon after winning the 2015 Australian Open, qualifying again for The 147th Open at Carnoustie after finishing runner-up at the 2017 Australian Open. The Australian Golf Club being the qualification venue each time.
“It’s amazing, if there is one Major I would like to win it is this one,” Jones said. “Coming from Australia, waking up and watching Greg Norman play, Peter Thomson is on there (the Claret Jug), it would be amazing to be on there too.
“I am going to try and watch The Open when it was played at Royal St George’s because I can’t remember the golf course. The Open is the No.1 golf tournament in the world and I can’t wait to get there.
“It’s always great to come back here to Australia to play, to get a trophy is fantastic and to also qualify for The Open is even better.”
With runner-up and 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen already exempt for the 149th Open, Pike and Kanaya claimed the other qualifying spots for Royal St George’s after finishing tied for third on nine-under.
Following birdies on the 14th and 15th holes, Pike became acutely aware of the opportunity on offer. A further birdie on the par-4 17th hole saw him record a final round two-under-par 69. He will now make his debut in The Open at Royal St George’s.
“I knew the spots were up for grabs and I knew going into the last day I was running top 10, so I had that idea in my head so to speak,” Pike said. “I birdied 17, I tried to birdie 18 to keep going, but it’s the biggest tournament in the world for me. It is. It’s as simple as that. It’s amazing to get in it.
“The Open is the biggest tournament in the world in my opinion, it’s the original. “I have wanted to play it for a very long time so to get in is just amazing, but I also want to do well in it because it is so important to me.”
The final round proved a challenge for Kanaya, who found himself two-over par at the turn. Fighting back with a birdie at the par-3 11th it took until the 72nd hole of the championship and a six-foot birdie putt for the 21-year-old to secure his place in The Open.
This will be the second Open appearance for Kanaya who made his debut at Royal Portrush in July after winning the 2018 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
“I was seeing the leaderboard,” Kanaya said. “I made a (birdie) putt, so I am joining The Open, I was so, so nervous. “I haven’t been to St George’s but I can’t wait for The Open next year.”
The next event in The Open Qualifying Series will be the South African Open hosted by The City of Joburg at Randpark from January 9 to 12. 2020.