(Reuters) – Yuta Ikeda qualified for next month’s British Open by winning the Japan Tour’s Mizuno Open on Sunday, a tournament where the monster length of the course raised eyebrows.
The Royal Country Club in Ibaraki Prefecture north of Tokyo played to a distance of 8016 yards in the third round, which is believed to be a record length for a sea level course on any recognized tour.
By contrast, the longest at Muirfield Village, where many of the world’s best players competed at the Memorial tournament on the PGA Tour in Ohio this week, was set up to 7336 yards for the first round.
Course lengths change slightly each round as officials move the hole locations and tees from day to day.
Ikeda had no trouble managing the 8000-plus yards, getting to nine under par on the day before dropping three shots in the final two holes for a six-under 66 in the third round.
The course played shorter for the final round, as Ikeda added a 71 to finish at seven-under-par 281 for his 21st Japan Tour victory.
“It never felt long for me,” he said of the course. “I wished that they would have kept it over 8000 on the final round as well. “
The top four finishers qualified for the British Open, which Ikeda will play for the eighth time, and his fifth in a row.
American Chan Kim finished second, one shot behind Ikeda, and also punched his ticket to Royal Portrush for the Open, which runs from July 18-21.
South Korean Sang-Hyun Park and Thai Gunn Charoenkul tied for third and also qualified.
It will be Charoenkul’s first major appearance.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis)