Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and South African Richard Sterne have qualified for next fortnight’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.
Jaidee and Sterne finished the leading two players on a ‘mini’ European money list running from the BMW PGA Championship and up to an including today’s concluding Irish Open at Royal Portrush.
Jaidee, 42 clinched a sixth British Open and a third in succession by virtue of his Wales Open success.
“I am very happy to be competing in the British Open, so that’s going to beexciting,” said the former triple winning Asian Tour No. 1.
“I knew if I made the cut here in Ireland I would almost certainly qualify, so it is good I’ve qualified,” said Jaidee.
Jaidee was speaking after posting a sizzling final round 66 in the Irish Open to finish in a share of 18th place on nine under par and nine shots behind Welshman Jamie Donaldson, who ended a 10-year drought to win a first Tour title
Sterne will contest his fifth British Open but a first in three years after finishing 34th in the 2009 championship at Turnberrry.
The 30-year old Stellenbosch born Sterne sealed his place in the July 19th starting British Open in finishing sixth in the BMW PGA, second to Jaidee in Wales and seventh behind Lee Westwood in the Nordea Masters in Sweden.
“If you had of told me at Wentworth and the BMW PGA, I would qualify for The Open off that mini money list, I would not have believed you,” said Sterne.
“The start of my year was just so bad with five missed cuts in a row from the Andalucian Open to the Ballantine’s.
“But I played nicely at Wentworth and then had that great finish behind Thongchai in Wales so it’s nice to be now going back to The Open for a first time in three years.
“I tried to qualify for the 2001 Open by missed out but I played a Lytham Trophythere when I was an amateur.
“This week has been a great warm-up for Lytham and I’ve got the French Open laterthis week and then a week off to get ready for The Open.
“I’m living only about an hour away from the course, so I might go over and play apractice round.
“But these few weeks since Wentworth have turned my season around, especially as they have been big events.
“And while I haven’t really done all that well in The Open’s I’ve played, I have teed up in a few now and I know what to expect.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing The Open and who knows if you get a few good breaks here and there, who knows what can happen.”
Sterne ended the Irish Open in a share of 45th place carding a final round 73 for a three under par tally.
“It’s been a brilliant week but my game is pretty good but I just made too many mistakes from the fairways,” said Sterne.
“The crowds have been brilliant and just world class and all week it’s been like competing in a Major Championship.
“And even though I’m now into The Open, it felt the final day of an Open today, and for the conditions we’ve experienced this week I take my hat off for the huge number of people who turned out this week.”