Young Australian Lincoln Tighe holds the first qualifying place for The 145TH Open at Royal Troon after the first round of the Emirates Australian Open in Sydney today.
The 26-year-old from Wolllongong produced a five-under-par round of 66 to take the first round lead and hold the first of the three places available in golf’s oldest Championship through The Open Qualifying Series.
The 2014 New South Wales PGA Champion, who is currently going through Q-School for the Web.com Tour, carded seven birdies and just two dropped shots in hot and blustery conditions at The Australian Golf Club. Tighe will make his Major Championship debut if he secures a place at Royal Troon this week.
“That would be great (if I could qualify),” said Tighe. “I haven’t played a Major before so it would be a great opportunity. I have just got to finish it off.”
Tighe leads Sydney-born Matthew Jones by a shot and is two clear of fellow home hope Geoff Ogilvy, who hold the other qualifying places respectively. The 35-year-old Jones, who won the Shell Houston Open on the PGA TOUR in 2014, notched up three birdies on the front nine on his way to a four-under-par 67. Jones is aiming to make his third consecutive appearance in The Open after finishing tied 30th at St Andrews this year.
Former US Open champion Ogilvy is bidding to return to The Open at Royal Troon after finishing tied 40th at St Andrews in July. The 38-year-old got off to a great start with four birdies in his first six holes, starting from the 10th hole, but undid the good work with a bogey and double bogey at the 17th and 18th. Ogilvy recovered with three birdies on his second nine before a dropped shot at the last saw him finish with a three-under-par 68.
“I missed The Open a few years ago and hated having to watch it on TV so it would be great to get it done early,” said Ogilvy. “If it’s not the biggest and best Championship in the world then I don’t know what is.”
Ogilvy tied on three-under-par with another Australian, Todd Sinnott, and Chinese Taipei amateur Chun-An Wu but holds the qualifying places thanks to his higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
The 2015 Emirates Australian Open is the first event in The Open Qualifying Series and three players who finish in the top ten and ties who are not already exempt, will earn places in The Open at Royal Troon, which will be played from 14-17 July 2016.