Shota Akiyoshi, Michael Hendry, Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi qualify for the 147TH Open in JAPAN

May 27, 2018, Ibaraki, Japan: Shota Akiyoshi, Michael Hendry, Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi secured their places in The 147th Open after qualifying at the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open at The Royal Golf Club in Japan.

The tournament is sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour Organisation and was the fourth event in The Open Qualifying Series, which gives players the chance to book their place at Carnoustie from 15-22 July 2018.

All four players will tee it up in The Open at the famous Scottish links after finishing as the leading four players in the top 12 and ties who were not already exempt.

Akiyoshi secured his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour to the delight of the home crowd after posting a two-under-par 70 in the final round to finish on a one-under-par total of 287.

He will make his debut in The Open after securing the first qualifying place ahead of Hendry, Kawamura and Kobayashi who finished in a three-way tie for second place on a level par total of 288.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into today’s final round, came close to forcing a play-off with Akiyoshi on the final hole but a bogey on the 18th green led to the New Zealander dropping a crucial stroke and ending his chances of landing a second tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour (147th open).

The 38-year-old will make his second appearance in The Open after qualifying at the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

In 2017, he also finished runner-up to Chan Kim and qualified to make his first appearance in a major championship at Royal Birkdale.

Kawamura and Kobayashi both posted a one-under-par round of 71 on the final day to claim the final two qualifying spots for golf’s original championship.

Kawamura was also left to rue a missed opportunity after a bogey on the final hole meant he had to settle for a share of second place and the 24-year-old will now make his first appearance in The Open when he tees it up at Carnoustie in July.

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 (147th open).

Shota Akiyoshi (Japan)

“I have never played links golf before but I consider myself a good iron player and I am very confident with my game in that regard.

I scored well in windy conditions on a long course at The Royal Golf Club this week so it will give me a lot of confidence for playing Carnoustie.”

Michael Hendry (New Zealand)

“I’m really happy to be heading back to The Open and to have another crack at playing in it is fantastic.

“I haven’t played Carnoustie before but it is pretty long and tight. I think I will need to have my game firing on all cylinders and prepare well.

Masahiro Kawamura (Japan)

“I am a little disappointed not to have won the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open but to have earned a place in The Open is fantastic and I am very excited to be playing in the Championship (147th open).

“It will be my first visit to Scotland and I am looking forward to the challenge of playing Carnoustie for the first time.

I know that links golf is very different so I will speak to my friends in the UK to get some advice. The way in which the course was set up this week will give me good experience in preparation for playing Carnoustie.”

Masanori Kobayashi (Japan)

“This is my second time playing in The Open after playing at Royal Liverpool in 2014. Unfortunately, I missed the cut then but I hope to do much better this time.

“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 as, along with the Old Course at St Andrews, it is the most special golf course.

“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.” —- R&A

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