John Senden, Rhein Gibson and Bryden Macpherson qualified for next year’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) through the first event in the new Open Qualifying Series in Australia today.
The three Australians secured the three places on offer at the Emirates Australian Open at Royal Sydney to join winner Rory McIlroy and runner-up Adam Scott in the field for golf’s oldest and most international Major Championship.
The new series will take in 14 events in nine countries on five continents as players on the world’s leading Tours bid to qualify for The Open at Royal Liverpool from 13-20 July.
Five birdies on the front nine and another on the 12th hole sent Senden on his way to a six-under-par 66 and an 11-under-par total to finish third in the championship. The 42-year-old from Brisbane will make his eighth appearance in The Open Championship with his best finish coming last year at Royal Lytham & St Annes where he tied 34th.
“I am very proud to have qualified for The Open Championship,” he said. “It was one of my goals for the week and I managed to put a nice little round together on Sunday to squeeze in. I’m happy to have a spot and am looking forward to playing in the Championship. The Open has a rotation of fabulous, world class courses and it produces different styles of golf every time. I have seen some of the best Australian golfers hold the Claret Jug and it would be a dream come true for me.”
Gibson and Macpherson finished two shots back on nine-under-par for the championship. Gibson’s three-under-par 69 was enough to confirm his debut in a Major Championship. The 29-year-old from New South Wales is currently ranked 998th in the Official World Golf Ranking and experienced links golf when he played in the Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2007 and Turnberry in 2008.
Gibson said, “It means the world to me to play in my first Major Championship. That’s what we all want to do - to play Majors and I’m grateful for the opportunity. The Open means so much with all the history of the Australians who have played in it and it’s a great test of golf that tests every facet of your game. I am really looking forward to it.”
Macpherson matched Gibson’s final round to take his place in The Open for a second time. The 23-year-old from Melbourne won the 2011 Amateur Championship at Hillside. He played in The Open that year at Royal St George’s and the 2012 Masters Tournament.
“Today’s a great day. I played well today and all week really. The Open was amazing the first time I played in at Royal St George’s. I played quite well and I think links golf sets up for me very well. For me The Open is golf, it’s where it all began in Scotland. It is golf at its purest and you can’t beat that.”
Peter Unsworth, the Chairman of The R&A Championship Committee, said, “I would like to congratulate John, Rhein and Bryden on qualifying for The Open Championship. We have introduced the new Open Qualifying Series to further enhance the global appeal of The Open and improve the qualifying process for the players. The series has got off to an excellent start here in Sydney and we have received very positive feedback from the players who relished the opportunity to qualify at a 72-hole championship. We look forward to the series continuing next year as we build up to The Open.”