NEWCASTLE, Northern Ireland — Soren Kjeldsen didn’t just win the Irish Open on Sunday. He also locked up his first spot in a major since 2012.
Ranked 303rd in the world entering the week, Kjeldsen’s playoff victory over England’s Eddie Pepperell and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger earned the Dane a spot in the 144th Open Championship to be held July 16-19 at St. Andrews in Scotland.
Kjeldsen last played in a major at the 2012 U.S. Open. His best career finish in one of golf’s four biggest events came at the 2009 PGA Championship, where he tied for sixth.
Also punching their tickets to the Open Championship at Royal County Down were Pepperell and Tyrrell Hatton, who tied for fourth with Rafael Cabrera Bello. Hatton got the third and final Open spot as he was six places ahead of the Spaniard heading into the week.
At the Mizuno Open in Okayama, Japan, on Sunday, Japan’s Taichi Teshima came away with the victory and claimed one of four spots in the St. Andrews field. Teshima’s compatriots Shinji Tomimura and Tadahiro Takayama also qualified for the Open, as did Australian Scott Strange.
Rory McIlroy’s preparations for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay took a blow after the world No.1 missed the cut.
McIlroy could not recover from Thursday’s opening round 80 – his highest total since his final-day Masters meltdown in 2011 – as he failed to reach the weekend action for the second successive tournament. It is also the third year running he has missed the cut at his home event, which he hosts.
“I was trying as hard as I could but just couldn’t get a good run of holes going,” McIlroy, who missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week, said. “Unfortunately I just left myself too much to do.
“The support out there was phenomenal and it’s the third year in a row they are not going to see me playing on the weekend. I’m more disappointed for them. I’m honestly looking forward to two weeks off before the U.S. Open.”