Sungjae Im, Keith Mitchell and Sung Kang secured their places in The 148th Open after qualifying at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
It was the first time that the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard has featured in The Open Qualifying Series, which gives golfers around the world opportunities to book their place at Royal Portrush from 14-21 July.
The PGA TOUR event was won by 2018 Champion Golfer of the Year Francesco Molinari after the Italian fired a magnificent bogey-free 64 in the final round to finish on a 12-under-par total of 276, two shots clear of runner-up Matthew Fitzpatrick. Both players were exempt from qualifying for The Open.
Im will make his first appearance in The Open after the Korean carded a final round 68 to finish in a tie for third place on a nine-under-par total of 279 with Rafa Cabrera Bello and Tommy Fleetwood, both of who were already exempt for The Open.
The 20-year-old, who won twice on the WEB.com Tour in 2018, recorded his third top 10 finish on the PGA TOUR this season to seal the first of three qualifying places available for Royal Portrush this week.
Mitchell and Kang will join him at the famous Dunluce Links in July after finishing in a tie for sixth place on an eight-under-par total of 280 alongside 2014 Champion Golfer of the Year Rory McIlroy and Matt Wallace.
With McIlroy and Wallace both exempt from qualifying for The Open, Mitchell and Kang claimed the two remaining qualifying places.
Mitchell earned his first PGA TOUR title at the Honda Classic last week and continued to enjoy a rich vein of form during today’s final round at Bay Hill. The 27-year-old carded eight birdies to post a 66 and book his place at Royal Portrush.
Kang will return to play in golf’s original championship for the third year running thanks to The Open Qualifying Series. The four-time Korean Tour winner qualified for The Open at the Quicken Loans National on the PGA TOUR in 2017 and 2018, and a final round 68 ensured the 31-year-old will play at Royal Portrush later this year.
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.
“It’s amazing. 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.”
“I’m so happy to have got one of the spots for The Open. 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.”
“I made a big putt on the last hole to get the spot and the opportunity to play in The Open again. I’m just going to go out and enjoy the experience like I did at Royal Birkdale and Carnoustie.
“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.”