Tournament article

De Los Santos on cloud nine after punching his ticket to The Open

De Los Santos on cloud nine after punching his ticket to The Open

It always pays when a touring professional golfer stages a spirited comeback in the final round of a tournament.


Finishing a rung or two higher can make plenty of difference, particularly in the prize money payout and world ranking points received.


In Justin De Los Santos' case, a solo fourth placing at the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open on Sunday rewarded him with more than that - he earned a coveted spot at The 150th Open Championship.


The Filipino joined three others - Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe and Australian duo Quayle and Brad Kennedy – heading to St. Andrews from July 14-17 for his maiden major appearance.


"It's an incredible opportunity for me. This will be my first time playing in a major," said De Los Santos, who capped a memorable week with a closing four-under-par 68 after staring at a lowly tied-55th position after the opening day.


"I'm so happy. This will be my first time to Europe, and it should be fun. St Andrews is a special place with a lot of history there. So, it will be awesome to play there."


De Los Santos was pleased with how he marked his best JGTO outing to date by overcoming the tough conditions at the JFE Setonaikai Golf Club. He improved on his previous joint-sixth place finish at the ISPS HANDA Championship.


"The course was playing really hard, and the rough was really long, so you're not really guaranteed a par if you miss the fairway," he said.


"Of course, the wind was up a little bit, but not as fast as the last couple of days.


"I started off really well with two birdies. At the turn, I saw I was close to being in the top four, so there was a little bit of pressure out there. But I played well enough. I'm happy."


Although being left gutted with another near-miss on his title bid, Kennedy, who finished third on 10-under 278, believes all is not lost for him.


At least Kennedy can look forward to a second straight appearance and fourth overall at The Open, where he will be attempting to make the cut for the first time.


"Another solid week, another top-five, but it still hurts when you're so close, and you know you're sort of two, three shots back you could pick up quite easily," he lamented.


"Credit to the guys in front. They did a great round today. It’s another start in The Open, and the 150th Open will be my fourth open, two years in a row. I have to make a few travel plans now.


" It's going to be exciting, and the crowd will be unbelievable and playing at the St. Andrews Old Course is one of those golfing moments you always dream about.


"I’ve played at St. Andrews for the Dunhill Links tournaments. It's going to be exciting. Got to debrief myself, look back to all the good things that I've done this week, and make a push at Shiseido Hills Country Club (BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship) next week," said Kennedy.