AP Inv: Im, Mitchell and Kang qualify for 148th Open Championship

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Sunjae Im, Keith Mitchell and Sung Kang have secured their places in The 148thOpen at Portrush after qualifying at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.

Im, Mitchell and Kang secured the three qualifying spots at the latest Open qualifying series event, which was the first time it was hosted by the Arnold Palmer Invitational. By finishing T3 (Im) T6 (Mitchell, Kang), the three men are set to play at Royal Portrush from 14-21 July this year. 

Francesco Molinari claimed the title with an impressive bogey-free 64 during the final round at Bay Hill, finishing two strokes clear of Matthew Fitzpatrick. With both players already exempt for the final major of the year, Im became the first player to qualify thanks to a four-under 68 on Sunday. 

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"I'm so happy to have got one of the spots for The Open," said 20-year-old Im, who won twice on the WEB.com Tour in 2018 and just recorded his third top 10 finish on the PGA TOUR this season.

sungjae im

"I really enjoyed playing in the US Open and the PGA Championship last year and now I get to play in The Open, which is great. I've never played in the UK before, I've only seen golf played there on television. It is going to be my first experience of links golf and I am really looking forward to it."

Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello also ended up with Im on nine-under, but as both players were also exempt, it fell to the players on eight-under-par. 

Mitchell, who secured his first victory on the PGA Tour at last week's Honda Classic, carded eight birdies on Sunday to post a 66, and will now make his debut at the Open in July. 

"It's amazing," said Mitchell, who finished in a tie for sixth with already exempt Rory McIlroy and Matt Wallace. "It's a championship I grew up watching and I love the courses and the set-up of The Open. I actually played Royal Portrush about 15 years ago with my dad. I don't remember too much about it other than it was really tough.

"I love the traditions and history of The Open and the players that have won it. I went to Royal Troon in 2004 when Todd Hamilton won. I remember standing there on the back of the green waiting for autographs and Darren Clarke gave me his glove – I'll never forget that."

Kang, who also finished sixth, is no stranger to the Open Qualifying Series. It's the third time he's qualified for the Open this way, and the four-time Korean Tour winner is definitely looking forward to it. 

“I made a big putt on the last hole to get the spot and the opportunity to play in The Open again," said Kang, who came through qualifying in both 2017 and 2018. "I’m just going to go out and enjoy the experience like I did at Royal Birkdale and Carnoustie. 

sung kang

“It will be great to play in Northern Ireland as I’ve never played golf there and I’ve heard it is beautiful. It will be a lot of fun.”

The next event in The Open Qualifying Series will be The Mizuno Open which will be played at The Royal in Japan from 30 May-2 June.