Brandon Stone, Alex Noren, Callum Shinkwin and Richard Sterne qualified for The 145th Open at Royal Troon after the final round of the 100th Open de France at Le Golf National.
The 100th Open de France was part of The Open Qualifying Series, which gives players the opportunity to qualify for golf’s most international major championship at leading Tour events around the world.
The four players will join the world’s best golfers as they compete to become Champion Golfer of the Year when The Open returns to the famous Ayrshire links for the ninth time from 14-17 July, 2016.
Stone endured an eventful front nine in his final round with three birdies and four dropped shots. A birdie at the par-three 11th took the 23-year-old from Rustenburg back to level par for his round and the BMW SA Open champion finished on a high with an excellent birdie three at the challenging 18th to achieve a four-under-par total of 280 and secure his debut in The Open. Stone finished seven shots behind winner Thongchai Jaidee, tied with Martin Kaymer and Andy Sullivan, who are already in the field for The Open.
‘One of the goals this year was to play my first major and this result has got me to The Open. I’m very, very excited about it,’ said Stone. ‘It’s a tournament I hold very dear to my heart and over the last few years I’ve really strived to try to get into it. To get that result in the end is obviously mission accomplished.’
Noren secured his return to The Open after a three-year absence with a final round level par 71 to finish on three-under-par. The 33-year-old from Stockholm got off to a good start with a birdie at the third and picked up another shot at the ninth but slipped back with two bogeys in three holes after the turn. The four-time winner on the European Tour recovered with a birdie at the 14th and, despite a dropped shot at the 17th, will now take his place at Royal Troon where he will look to improve on his best finish of tied ninth in The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012.
‘I like challenges, and this (Open de France) was a challenge, so it’s nice to succeed. It’s such a great event and I love to play in it,’ said Noren. ‘I’ve never been to Troon so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve played two good ones out of the four or five I’ve played, and that helps coming into it.’
Former Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup player Shinkwin produced an excellent final round three-under-par 68 to finish on two-under-par and secure his first appearance in a Major Championship at The Open. The 23-year-old winner of the 2013 English and South American amateur championships carded four birdies and just the one dropped shot to finish on the same mark as Joost Luiten, who is already exempt for The Open.
‘It’s great, everyone from Great Britain and Ireland wants to play their home Major, and obviously The Open is the one. I’ve watched it almost every year,’ said Shinkwin.
The final qualifying place in The Open was taken by the 34-year-old South African Richard Sterne after a final round two-under-par 69. The six-time winner on the European Tour traded six birdies and four bogeys, including two in his last two holes, to finish on one-under-par, tied with Lee Westwood, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Bernd Wiesberger, who are already exempt for The Open. Sterne’s best finish in The Open was tied-21st at Muirfield in 2013.
‘I’ve played (The Open) six or seven times and I’ve really enjoyed it,’ said Sterne. ‘The crowds, the history obviously, it’s second to none. It’s what everybody dreams of winning and it’s something that I’ve watched for my whole life. To play in it is a really special occasion.’