Stone, Pepperell and Dantorp Secure Open Spots at Gullane
Brandon Stone, Eddie Pepperell and Jens Dantorp will enjoy more links golf next week after booking their places in The 147th Open at Carnoustie at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
With The Open Qualifying Series concluding in Scotland and the United States today, three places were on offer at Gullane for those finishing in the top ten and ties not already exempt for Carnoustie.
Over the fast-running links in East Lothian, Stone sealed his place in stunning style after firing one of the best-ever rounds in European Tour history for his third title on the circuit.
In the fifth Rolex Series event of the 2018 season the South African carded a superb 10-under-par 60, thanks to eight birdies and an eagle, and was only inches away from becoming the first player to ever card a 59 on the European Tour.
The 25-year-old’s effort on the 18th for an historic birdie slid by on the 18th, settling for a four-stroke triumph on 20-under-par and sealing his third straight appearance in The Open.
“Winning this week is spectacular, but the added bonus of getting into The Open next week at Carnoustie is phenomenal,” said Stone.
“I’m thoroughly looking forward to it. Carnoustie does have a reputation and it seems like it does humble a lot of guys but I feel like I’m playing well and I look forward to getting there, doing my preparation and hopefully I can build on this result.
“If you had told me ten years ago, when I was 15, that I was going to win a links golf tournament I would have laughed at you, as a boy from South Africa doesn’t see links golf that often.
“But any time you get the chance to participate in the majors you know you are doing something right. The last year to 18 months have been quite a struggle for me, but after this result I want to build on it and I’m really looking forward to next week and the rest of the season.”
England’s Pepperell was seeking to add to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters title he won in February after seven birdies in his opening 14 holes but he had to settle for the runner-up spot on 16-under-par.
The 27-year-old will now play in only his second Open after his debut at St Andrews in 2015 and said, “It was a good final round from me while Brandon has gone crazy but the added bonus of being in The Open is always special. I played my first one at St Andrews in 2015 and ended up hitting the hotel (third round on the 17th, out of bounds) so who knows what I’m going to hit next week!
“It will be interesting to see Carnoustie, with the summer we’ve had. I’ve only played it in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship when the rough is down, it’s generally cold and damp and the pins are easier. I’m expecting to see a different side of Carnoustie next week, that’s for sure.
“Today was a great buzz and it’s an amazing feeling for next week. I get out of bed in the morning to try and play good golf in front of people. I look forward to it.”
Dantorp, 29, is looking forward to taking his bow in golf’s original championship after holding his nerve to tie for third place on 15-under-par with American Luke List and South African Trevor Immelman.
With List already exempt for Carnoustie, Swede Dantorp pipped Immelman to the third qualifying place at Gullane thanks to his higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) at the beginning of the week commencing 9 July.
Twice a winner on the European Challenge Tour, Dantorp said, “It will be nice to play in my first major championship. Obviously, you try to win every golf tournament you play but today I was a few shots back. Brandon played some really great golf out there and there was nothing I could do so I’m very pleased to grab that Open spot. I’m looking forward to Carnoustie.
“I go there confident but I’ve no idea how Carnoustie is going to play. I’ve been there once for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship but it’s going to be a lot tougher this time. It will be good fun. I have so many memories of The Open. Henrik Stenson winning at Royal Troon in 2016 was pretty good, the duel with Phil Mickelson there.”
The final Open Qualifying Series place goes to American Michael Kim. He won the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run by 8 shots from Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen and Sam Ryder.