Russell Knox, runner-up in last week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, is one of eight players to earn a place in the 145TH Open Championship at Royal Troon as one of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Rankings as of Week 21.
For Knox, the highest ranked of the new entries at 23, it is a superb opportunity to build on a growing reputation in the game, sparked by his victory in last year’s WGC-HSBC Champions event, where he became the first player to win a World Golf Championship on debut.
In his last three starts alone Knox has finished runner-up at The Heritage and tied 19th at The Players Championship, in addition to last week’s effort at The K Club where he briefly led the tournament on the back nine, before he was overtaken by an inspired late charge from tournament host Rory McIlroy.
The 30-year-old originally hails from Inverness so will enjoy the visit to nearby Castle Stuart for the Scottish Open in the week before The Open. He will also be keen to improve on last year’s debut in the Championship, when he completed rounds of 72-74 to miss the cut on The Old Course at St Andrews.
Also securing a berth at Royal Troon is American Kevin Chappell who has three runner-up finishes this season.
The 29-year-old has earned those results at the RSM Classic, Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship. It’s been a stellar year for the Californian with another two top tens, but he still seeks his first win.
His appearance at Royal Troon will be his first at The Open, but he does boast two major championship top ten finishes at the US Open back in 2011 and 2012.
Another in-form player to seal his place is Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello who has posted no less than nine top 20 finishes around the world in 2016, including third place in the World Golf Championship-Dell Match Play.
The 31-year-old, currently ranked 4th on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, will be making his fifth appearance at The Open and hoping to claim a first top 20 finish.
Like Chappell, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo will be making his Championship debut at Royal Troon. The 23-year-old made a spectacular breakthrough in 2015, first winning the Web.com Tour Championship to graduate to the PGA Tour and then claiming the Frys.com Open two weeks later.
He will be inspired by compatriot Roberto De Vicenzo who in 1967 became the only Argentinian winner of The Open and who also finished second at Troon in 1950.
Also certain of his debut in The Open is Justin Thomas, the Kentucky player who won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and cemented his place with a third placed finish at The Players Championship earlier this month.
Ryan Moore, the 33-year-old four-time winner on the PGA Tour, will make his seventh appearance at The Open. The 2004 US Amateur champion will be hoping to improve on his best finish of tied 12th at Royal Liverpool in 2014.
Three-time PGA Tour winner Billy Horschel is best known for completing back-to-back victories at the close of the 2014 season, including the Tour Championship which earned him the lucrative FedEx Cup.
The 29-year-old has played in the last three Championships, missing the cut in 2013 and 2014 before closing with a 67 at St Andrews last year to finish tied 30th.
The last man to confirm his spot, right on the number at 50 in the rankings, is Sweden’s David Lingmerth. The 28-year-old made the cut on debut at The Open last year and will be seeking to become the first Swedish winner of a major championship.