Billy Hurley III, Jon Rahm, Vijay Singh and Harold Varner III have qualified for The 145th Open at Royal Troon after today’s final round of the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.
The Quicken Loans National was the seventh event in 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 now compete against the world’s best golfers 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.
Meanwhile, six players also qualified for The Open through the European Tour Race to Dubai and the PGA TOUR FedExCup rankings. In the Race to Dubai, England’s Andrew Johnston, Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, South Korea’s Soomin Lee, and Joost Luiten from the Netherlands all earned a place at Royal Troon, while Americans William McGirt and Smylie Kaufman booked their place through the FedExCup.
At the Quicken Loans National, American Billy Hurley III earned his first PGA TOUR title and a place in The 145th Open after a tremendous performance in front of a raucous hometown crowd. The former US Naval officer thrilled spectators by chipping in at the 15th and following that up with a 27-foot birdie putt on the 16th green to close out the tournament with a two-under-par 69.
The 34-year-old finished on 17-under-par and will now challenge for the Claret Jug for the second time after making his Open debut in 2014 at Royal Liverpool where he finished tied 64th.
‘This will be my second Open, and I remember being there for the first time and standing on the putting green thinking, I didn’t really think I’d get to play in one of these in my career and now I’m playing in a second one. It will be great,’ said Hurley.
Vijay Singh, who made his first appearance in The Open at Royal Troon in 1989, will play in his 25th Championship and 89th major after finishing runner-up behind Hurley. The 53-year-old Fijian’s best finish was tied for 2nd place with Thomas Bjorn in 2003 at Royal St George’s. At Congressional, Singh closed out his round of 65 with a birdie at the 18th to finish on 14-under-par for the tournament.
‘It’s really nice to be going back to Troon again. That was my first Open, back in 1989. It’s nice to be back, I love playing in The Open. The conditions are incredible and it’s just nice to be back there,’ said Singh after completing his round.
Former number one in the World Amateur Golf Ranking Jon Rahm booked his spot at The Open after tying for third place alongside Bill Haas, who has already qualified for the Championship. The 21-year-old Spaniard, who was making his professional debut this week after finishing as low amateur at last week’s US Open, posted a final round 70 to finish on 13-under-par.
Rahm said, ‘I really wanted to play at Royal Troon and I knew I had the exemption as an amateur but I gave it up to get my PGA Tour career started. I’m just so happy I played well today and I got my spot at Troon.’
American Harold Varner III also qualified for The Open after nudging out former Ryder Cup player Francesco Molinari, who was in position to scoop the fourth qualifying spot after finishing 8-under-par. But a final day score of 70 saw him finish in 7th place at 9-under-par behind Ernie Els and Webb Simpson who were both already exempt for the Championship. He will now make his Open debut at Royal Troon.
Varner admitted it was only when his caddie told him he had won the last qualifying place that he realised he was going to Royal Troon, saying ‘I didn’t even realise what was happening until I was done and my caddie said that he thought I had the last place. So it’s been a really cool experience. I’m really looking forward to getting over there.
‘I’m going to have to focus on getting the ball lower and using my imagination. But it’s still golf; you’ve just got to keep playing your game. I’m super pumped.’