Date: May 29, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Bland wins way into third Open

South Australian Adam Bland has joined a growing band of Australians to have qualified for The Open at Royal Birkdale in July.

Bland, 34, sealed his third Open start overnight when he finished third in the Japan Golf Tour's Mizuno Open in Okayama.

The left-hander was a distant third to runaway champion Chan Kim, of the United States, but the prize as one of the Open Qualifying Series tournaments was arguably as grand.

"I’m just really excited. This will be my third Open, I haven’t been to Royal Birkdale so I’m hoping I can perform better than I have the last few times," Bland said.

"This is what you play for all year, the chance to be in The Open. If you can qualify to play in all four majors, that’s the goal, to be that good in the world."

Kim finished 15 under with New Zealand's Michael Hendry second at 10 under, three shots clear of Bland, who's previously played The Open in 2015 at St Andrews and in 2006 at Royal Liverpool.

Sadly for Won Joon Lee, the big-hitting New South Welshman was joint fourth at six under, but lost the countback to KT Kim, courtesy of the Korean's higher world ranking.

The Mizuno Open is the fourth event in the Open Qualifying Series, which began at the Emirates Australian Open in November where Ash Hall, Cam Smith and Aaron Baddeley qualified.

Other Aussies already assured of a berth in the year's third major championship are Scott Hend, Matthew Griffin, Jason Day and Adam Scott, while Ian Baker-Finch has the right to play as the 1991 Birkdale champion.