Australia will field an eight-strong contingent at The Open this week after Scott Hend’s last-minute bid narrowly failed.
Debutants Lucas Herbert and Cam Davis will join a host of seasoned Open campaigners at Carnoustie, in Scotland, for the 147th edition of golf’s grandest tournament.
Jason Day and 2015 runner-up Marc Leishman are expected to lead the Aussie charge, which also will feature Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Cameron Smith and Brett Rumford.
But Queenslander Hend will be forced to watch on television after signing for an even-par 70 to finish T14 on 12 under at Gullane, where South African Brandon Stone unleashed a final round for the ages to storm to the Scottish Open trophy.
Stone, who carded a stunning 10-under-par 60 to reach 20 under, will join Eddie Pepperell and Jens Dantorp in the field at the second-to-last chance to qualify for the year’s third major championship. This morning’s final round at the US PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic has thrown runaway champion Michael Kim into the mix.
Hend, who’d surged into calculations to reach his fifth Open Championship with a sizzling third-round 63, couldn’t find the same mojo today and was unable to find a birdie until the 12th hole as Stone unleashed golfing fury ahead.
The South African, who reached his third consecutive Open, had his birdie putt on the last slide narrowly by for what would have given him the magical 59.
But for the rest of the field, the damage had well and truly been done with eight birdies and an eagle on the par-five 16th an exclamation point on a stupendous round.
“Great work pal … you showed it was close yesterday and today you smashed it … awesome round of golf. Well deserved, great champion,” Hend tweeted to Stone afterwards.
Smith capped off his preparation with a solid, if not spectacular, final-round 68, his third such score this week as he ended at seven under and in a share of 42nd.
Adam Bland was the only other Aussie to make the cut at Gullane and closed with a 70 to finish 66th after his flat third round cost him any chance.
At the John Deere, Jones could only muster a final-round one-over-par 72, but still finished in a share of 12th at 15 under, albeit 12 shots adrift of Kim.
But in more heartening news from Illinois, veteran John Senden carded another great round on his comeback to the US PGA Tour, his 68 giving him an 11-under total and a share of 34th as he rebuilds after a year out as son Jacob battled a brain tumour.
Stuart Appleby was the final Aussie to make the cut, finishing T50 at nine under after a closing 67.