CHRISTIAAN Bezuidenhout, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Adri Arnaus qualified for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation at Valderrama on Sunday.
The Andalucia Masters is the eighth event in The Open Qualifying Series and offers golfers around the world the opportunity to qualify through leading Tour events for golf’s original championship at Royal Portrush from 14-21 July.
It is the first time the European Tour event has featured as part of the series and three places in The Open were on offer to the leading non-exempt players who finished in the top ten and ties.
Bezuidenhout secured his Major Championship debut in style by winning the prestigious championship with a level par final round of 71 for a ten-under-par total of 274. The 25-year-old saw off the challenge of his playing partner and home favourite, John Rahm, who is already exempt for The Open, and showed steely resolve to recover from a string of four bogeys in five holes from the 3rd with three consecutive birdies from the 9th.
Rahm was joined on four-under-par for the tournament by Lorenzo-Vera and Arnaus, who secured the remaining places in The Open thanks to their higher positions in the Official World Golf Ranking than Spanish duo Alvaro Quiros and Eduardo de la Riva, who were on the same mark.
The Frenchman holed a 20 foot putt from the edge of the green at Valderrama’s challenging par four 18th for a three-under round of 68 to move to four-under-par overall and ultimately secure his second appearance in The Open after playing at Royal Birkdale in 2017. Three birdies in his opening six holes set the 34-year-old former Challenge Tour number one on his way and par golf from there was enough to secure his place in the field on the Antrim coast in two weeks’ time.
Arnaus cemented his reputation as a rising star of Spanish golf with a final round of two-under-par 69 that saw him pick up four shots in five holes from the 12th. The 24-year-old former Spanish Amateur Champion will play in his second consecutive major at Royal Portrush having finished tied 58th in the US Open at Pebble Beach earlier this month.
“It’s amazing. It has always been a dream of mine to play in The Open and it’s going to be a great week," said Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
"I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s my favourite major of the year and just to play in it is really special. It’s going to mean a lot to me to play in front of the crowd there."
Mike Lorenzo-Vera said the experience of playing The Open at Royal Birkdale two years ago has whetted his appetite for Royal Portrush.
"To play The Open in Northern Ireland is going to be a bit special as well," he said.
"The crowd haven’t had it for a long time so I guess it will be a fantastic experience.
“It’s going to be magic."
Adri Arnaus admitted it was 'incredible' to play so well on home soil.
“It’s just an incredible feeling to come out and be able to play that good and earn one of those spots, I mean that’s just incredible," he said.
“Portrush is definitely going to be packed and I’m really looking forward to playing some links golf in front of these crowds and getting another experience under my belt.”