Koepka, ex-Florida State player, wins British Open qualifier in England
By PGA.com news services
SUNNINGDALE, England -- Brooks Koepka capped off a big week by qualifying for the British Open.
Koepka had rounds of 69 and 65 at Sunningdale to get one of nine spots Monday in the European edition of International Final Qualifying. The 23-year-old American was medalist just one day after winning his third European Challenge Tour event to earn an instant promotion to the European Tour.
The next seven spots went to Oliver Fisher, Gregory Bourdy, Richard McEvoy, Alvaro Quiros, Gareth Mabyin, Niclas Fasth and Scott Jamieson. Estanislao Goya of Argentina earned the last spot in a playoff against three others, making par on the second extra hole. Goya also made it into the U.S. Open through a European qualifier.
Koepka, 23, played at Florida State and turned pro last summer. He carded rounds of 69 and 65 over the Old and New courses respectively to finish 5 under par, one shot clear of Fisher, who returned scores of 70 and 65.
France's Bourdy, England's McEvoy, Spain's Quiros and Northern Ireland's Maybin finished on 3 under, with Sweden's Fasth and Scotland's Jamieson also qualifying on 2 under.
That left Goya, Ross Fisher, David Drysdale and Alejandro Canizares – who all finished 1 under – in the playoff, with Goya coming out on top at the second extra hole.
Fisher and Drysdale were eliminated after bogeys at the first playoff hole and a par on the next was enough for Goya to seal a trip to Muirfield after Canizares three-putted from just off the green.
Among those to miss out were England's Tom Lewis, France's Thomas Levet and Ryder Cup captains past and present Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul McGinley.
Lewis burst onto the scene with an opening 65 at Royal St. George's in 2011, the lowest score by an amateur in Open history giving him a share of the lead. The 22-year-old went on to finish 30th and win the silver medal as leading amateur before turning professional and winning the Portugal Masters in just his third event in the paid ranks.
A first round of 66 on the Old Course Monday morning gave him the clubhouse lead on 4 under par, but a second round of 75 saw him finish 2 over par.
Levet was part of a four-man, four-hole play-off with Ernie Els, Steve Elkington and Stuart Appleby the last time the Open was staged at Muirfield at 2002, eventually losing out to Els on the first hole of sudden death. But consecutive rounds of 70 saw him miss out on the playoff by two shots, while Olazabal and McGinley were both three shots further back.
After his win in the Scottish Hydro Challenge, Koepka managed just two hours' sleep before catching a 6:30 a.m. flight from Scotland to London. But he showed no ill effects as he qualified for his second major championship after playing in the 2012 U.S. Open as an amateur.
"I was in a lot of heather today and I kind of felt like I was in it all day," he said. "I didn't hit it that great but I just tried to relax and hang in there. I putted really well and made some key putts on the second 18.
"It's awesome to play in The Open, it's what you prepare your game to play in," he added. "Any major is special but the Open is up there. Everybody wants to win it."
Fisher was relishing the prospect of playing in his second Open after appearing at Turnberry in 2009.
"I haven't played at Muirfield before but I watched Ernie Els win in 2002 and Nick Faldo also won there," he said. "I can't wait to play there. I'm really pleased with my day's work."