Charles Howell III needs a passport to pack with his putter.
He's off to Royal St. George's with a spot in the British Open because of his third-place finish Sunday in the AT&T National. Howell locked up a spot because he had the highest finish from among the top five of those golfers not already qualified for the British Open.
2011 BRITISH OPEN
International Final Qualifying (IFQ) events are held on five continents to give more players the chance to gain direct entry into golf's oldest championship.
Harrison Frazar, Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen also earned places in the British Open on Sunday.
Jacobson and Frazar claimed the two spots on offer from a "current form" mini-money list on the PGA Tour, while Olesen and Howell were the leading non-exempt players at the Alstom French Open and AT&T National.
Olesen tied for second with England's Mark Foster, but will be Royal St. George’s by virtue of being the higher player in the world rankings.
About five more Open spots are set to be handed out on Monday once the new world rankings are published.
That is because there are vacancies caused by exempt players winning some of this season's bigger events -- Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open, Charl Schwartzel at the Masters, KJ Choi at the Players Championship and Luke Donald at the BMW PGA Championship -- and former Open winners like Nick Faldo and Greg Norman electing not to play.
Howell knew playing in a major tournament for the first time this season was on the line Sunday and tried not to let the pressure take the focus off playing well at Aronimink Golf Club.
"I thought about it. It was in the back of my head," he said. "But that doesn't mean anything. It definitely doesn't help you play better, I know that much."
Howell clinched a spot not far from his childhood home. His father had his residency at the children's hospital of Philadelphia and Howell lived in Ardmore until he was 3.
"Obviously, I'm thrilled," he said. "But the more important thing was today."
Howell was strong throughout and quickly separated himself from a field of other British Open hopefuls that included Webb Simpson and Steve Marino. He made his move on a bogey-free front nine, with birdies on the first, sixth and ninth holes.
"I just kept trying to push ahead," Howell said. "It almost made it a little bit easier to just forget about it on the closing holes."