14 December 2014, Chonburi, Thailand: Marcus Fraser, Scott Hend, Jonathan Moore and Anirban Lahiri qualified for the 144th Open at St Andrews after the final round of the Thailand Golf Championship today.
Fraser, from New South Wales in Australia, led the chase for the four qualifying places on offer at Amata Spring Country Club with a steady performance from start to finish. The 36-year-old fell just short of a second Asian Tour victory after narrowly missing his putt on the 18th to force a play-off with winner Lee Westwood, who had already secured a place in The Open.
The Australian mixed five birdies with three bogeys on Sunday to close with a 70 and finish tied second on seven-under-par alongside US Open champion Martin Kaymer, who is also exempt. The two-time European Tour winner entered the Thailand Golf Championship in an attempt to qualify for The Open, and will now make his return to St Andrews ten years after making his Major Championship debut there in 2005. It will be his fifth appearance at The Open, and his best finish to date was tied 35th at Royal Liverpool in 2006.
Fraser’s compatriot Hend, from Queensland, also played in The Open at St Andrews in 2005 and will make his second appearance in 2015. The six-time Asian Tour winner carded a 69 on Sunday to finish in fifth place on four-under-par. He won the Hong Kong Open in October of this year to earn his European Tour card for next season and is looking forward to playing in Europe before making his return to the Home of Golf in July.
American Moore, who was playing on a sponsor’s invitation, had a dream week at Amata Spring and will make his first appearance at The Open next year. The 29-year-old former Walker Cup player finished joint sixth on three-under-par alongside Lahiri and exempt player Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand. Moore rolled in a 20 foot putt on the 18th to secure his place in The Open before embracing his wife Claire, who caddied for him in Thailand and is expecting the couple’s first child.
Lahiri, from Bangalore, India, closed with a 73 on Sunday to clinch the final place in The Open. The five-time Asian Tour winner earned his most recent victory at the Venetian Macau Open in October and will make a third start at The Open in 2015.
“I played in The Open at St Andrews in 2005 as the first Major I ever played. I was jumping out of my skin on the first tee but hopefully I’ll be calmer next year. The Open is my favourite championship of the year and the best championship in the world so I can’t wait to get back there.”
“Today I was thinking more about the four spots in The Open [than winning the championship.]. It created a bit more pressure because I really wanted desperately to play in another Open. 2005 at St Andrews was my one and only Open and I’m really excited to have a crack at it again.”
“Of course you’d like to be a Major Champion but if you could possibly win The Open at St Andrews that’s just the cherry on the cake. It’s the best accomplishment for all professional golfers.”
“I didn’t even think I’d have a chance to try and qualify for The Open next year and now that I’m going, it’s incredible. St Andrews is my favourite golf course in the world and just to know that The Open is on my schedule seven months from now, I can’t really describe the feeling.”
“The Open is one of those events you want to keep going back to. Going to an Open at St Andrews is something really special and something I’ve always dreamed about. I’m really happy that I’ve got that opportunity now.”
“As a kid, I didn’t watch too much golf but I always watched The Open at St Andrews. You see all of the things on television that you dream of experiencing for yourself, like the Swilcan Bridge and the Road Hole Bunker. You hear all the stories and legends but to be there in person will be something very special.”
The Thailand Golf Championship was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series, which gives players a chance to qualify for The Open at leading Tour events around the world. Fraser, Hend, Moore and Lahiri will join Australians Rod Pampling, Brett Rumford and Greg Chalmers who qualified at the Emirates Australian Open in November.
The Open Qualifying Series continues at the Joburg Open, hosted by Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club from 26 February to 1 March, 2015.
The 144th Open will be played from 16-19 July 2015 at St Andrews.