Picture: Mizuno staff players at The Mizuno Open. Kobayashi pictured bottom row (2nd from right)
Mizuno’s Masanori Kobayashi secured his place at The 147th Open after qualifying at the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open at The Royal Golf Club in Japan.
The Mizuno Open has been played in Japan since 1971 – a full Japan Golf Tour event since 1979. Beginning in 1998, the top four finishers in the Mizuno Open that were not already exempt into The Open Championship have received exemptions and why the event is also known as the Gateway to the Open. Mizuno’s own Masanori Kobayashi – with a last round 71, picked up the last of 4 qualifying positions available through the event, booking his place at Carnoustie from 15-22 July 2018.
Kobayashi looked to be in contention for a fourth career win on the Japan Golf Tour after three birdies in his final round had put the 42-year-old out in front on two-under-par coming down the 18th. However, a double bogey on the final hole saw him drop two vital strokes, ending his hopes of lifting the trophy. Kobayashi will return to The Open for the first time since 2014 when he first played in the Championship at Royal Liverpool.
He said “This is my second time playing in The Open after playing at Royal Liverpool in 2014. I have never played at Carnoustie but I have heard many stories about how tough it will be and I have always wanted to play it.”
He added: “My preparations will now be focused on The Open. From what I have seen of Carnoustie accuracy will be key and the tee shots will be extremely important.”