Open Championship

Open Championship: Some Players You Might Not Know

The Lesser Known Players in The Field Chasing Dreams

Despite several players opting out The Open Championship is full of well-known players. Here is a little information on some of the lesser-known players in the field.

Ryutaro Nagano

Age: 33

Turned Pro: 2008

From: Japan

College: N/A

OWGR: 486

Notes: Blood type O. Currently 38th on the Japan Tour Order of Merit. His best finish is T2 at the Gate Way to the Open Mizuno Open (another great tourney name). Has played his entire career in Japan on both the Japan Tour and the AbemaTV Tour, Japan’s version of the Korn Ferry Tour. Does not own a professional win. 

Jack Senior

Age: 32 (Birthday is Open Sunday)

Turned Pro: 2011

From: England

College: N/A

OWGR: 280

Notes: His nickname is “The Bear.” He got into the Open Championship with a 10th-place finish at the Scottish Open. Senior had a decorated amateur career that included being a semi-finalist at 2011 U.S. Amateur, where he beat both Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth along the way. The pro game has been tough at times for Senior, but he does have six career wins on OWGR tours — two each on the Alps, EuroPro and Challenge Tours. This will be his fourth Open, but he has yet to make the cut. 

Nicholas Poppleton

Age: 27

Turned Pro: 2019

From: England

College: University of Plymouth

OWGR: 984

Notes: These are the kind of players that qualifying was made for. Poppleton shot 10 under for 36 holes to win the Open Championship qualifier at West Lancashire Golf Club by three shots. On the side he delivers groceries and does odd jobs to help pay his bills while playing professionally. He played a practice round with Phil and Bryson Monday, which might have been the highlight of his pro career. He has career earnings of just over $21,000 on the developmental EuroPro Tour. 

Rikard Karlberg

Age: 34

Turned Pro: 2006

From: Sweden

College: N/A

OWGR: 304

Notes: If you aren’t rooting for Rikard, I can’t help you. Karlberg had some success in the early part of his career with two Asian Tour wins and a European Tour win. In 2017 at the Irish Open he didn’t feel well. Doctors weren’t sure of the core issue, but as a result he fell into a bad bout of depression. He was in bed for almost six months. With the help of both physical and mental health doctors, he started to feel better in 2019.

At Q school Karlberg came to the last hole needing a 35-footer to get his European Tour card back…and he drained it. Then last week at the Irish Open on the 72nd hole, he chipped in for birdie to earn one of the last spots in the Open Championship. Amazing stuff. Read his blog on his struggles here

Deyen Lawson

Age: 30

Turned Pro: 2016

From: Australia

College: N/A

OWGR: 633

Notes: Golf is a silly game. Lawson had missed 10 consecutive cuts on the Challenge and European Tour, so of course he won the qualifier to get into the Open Championship. Prior to the missed-cut streak, he had made 11 of 12 cuts. An odd stat from his first year on the European Tour in 2018: He made two holes-in-one and used eight iron for both of them. One of the aces won him a BMW Series 8 valued at $250,000. Nicknamed Digger. 

Poom Saksansin

Age: 28

Turned Pro: 2013

From: Thailand

College: N/A

OWGR: 1,066

Notes: Poom qualified for the event with a T6 at the 2020 Singapore Open. He has three wins on the Asian Tour with one win each in 2016, ‘17 and ’18. His win in 2018 came at the Indonesian Masters with Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson in the field. He has only played one OWGR event in 2021, a T36 on the All Thailand Tour. 

Chan Kim

Age: 31

Turned Pro: 2010

From: South Korea

College: Arizona State

OWGR: 94

Notes: Chan is one of my favorite (kind of) obscure golfers. Since he plays mostly on the Japan Tour, not a ton of fans know him despite being in the top 100. I followed him at the Waste Management Monday the last few years and the dude just loves to blow clouds. You will always know where Chan is on the course. Follow the clouds. He has five career Japan Tour wins including three in a six-month span in 2017. This will be his ninth Major, where his best finish was 11th at the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in 2017. 

Ben Hutchinson

Age: 26

Turned Pro: 2020               

From: England             

College: N/A

OWGR: 1,095

Notes: Shot an impressive 13-under (66-65) including birdies on the last three holes to win the St Anne’s Old Links qualifier. This year he is playing on the EuroPro Tour in England where he has made three of four cuts, and notched a runner-up. Last year he played mainly on the MENA Tour, a developmental tour played mainly in the Middle East. In 2017 he lost to Nick Poppleton (listed above) at the Lee Westwood Trophy, a top amateur event in England. 

Ricardo Celia

Age: 29

Turned Pro: 2014

From: Colombia

College: Nova Southeastern

OWGR: 1073

Notes: Earned his way into the Open with his win at the Argentina Open in 2019. In that event he was in a playoff with Brandon Matthews. On the second playoff hole, Matthews had a putt to continue the playoff and a man with Down Syndrome yelled in his backswing. Matthews missed the putt and Celia earned his spot in the Open. Celia has two career LatinAmerican Tour wins and this will be his first major. 

Aaron Pike

Age: 35

Turned Pro: 2007

From: Australia

College: N/A

OWGR: 643

Notes: Pike earned his spot with a third-place finish in the Australian Open in 2019. Won the Tailor-Made Building Services NT PGA (what a great name and the greatest trophy ever) in 2020. That year he played just five OWGR events, missed the cut in four and won the other. Has struggled with injuries at times. Has played mainly in Australia but also in Asia at times. According to his website, you can hire him to MC your golf event as a “great way to add excitement to your event.” These are the things players do to keep the dream alive. 

Richard T. Lee 

Age: 30

Turned Pro: 2007

From: Canada

College: N/A

OWGR: 355

Notes: Lee turned pro in 2007 at the age of 16. That year he qualified for the U.S. Open and became the second-youngest player ever to qualify. He had Nationwide (KFT) status in 2011 but lost his card. He does have two Asian Tour wins. Since turning, Lee has played on the following tours: Asian, Korean, European, Canadian, Australiasian, Korn Ferry, PGA, OneAsian (no longer a tour) and Japan. Racking up the frequent flier miles. This will be his first major since the 2007 U.S. Open. 

JC Ritchie

Age: 27

Turned Pro: 2014

From: South Africa

College: N/A

OWGR: 233

Notes: Ritchie has had a really good career, but because he doesn’t leave South Africa often, it has flown mostly under the radar. He won the Order of Merit on the Sunshine Tour in 2020 thereby earning a spot here at the Open Championship. He has eight total wins on the Sunshine Tour and won three of 14 events in a five-week stretch in 2019. Ritchie is also 4-0 in playoffs. 

Marcus Kinhult

Age: 24

Turned Pro: 2015

From: Sweden

College: N/A

OWGR: 214

Notes: His dad, Mickael, and his sister Frida both play professionally also. Frida was ranked at the No. 1 amateur in the world in 2019 and won the 2020 Symetra Tour Championship. Marcus played out of the Skafto Golf Club in Fiskebackskil, Sweden, a town of 1,400. Despite the town’s size, the club also produced Thomas Bjorn and Barry Lane. Kinhult won the British Masters in 2019, his only professional win so far. While practicing this April in Spain Kinhult suffered an epileptic seizure and was out of competition until the Irish Open Championship last week. 

Will Zalatoris

Age: 24

Turned Pro: 2018

From: United States

College: Wake Forest

OWGR: 30

Notes: Don’t know much about him, but I do know he is a Korn Ferry member. Says on his Wiki page that he finished in the top 10 of the last three of four majors he has played in, but I have no idea how a KFT member got in those. Don’t know much about him, but it looks like he’s had about a billion top-10’s in the last year and a half or so. Nice to see him in the Open Championship this week.

3 thoughts on “Open Championship: Some Players You Might Not Know”

  1. From reading those I get the feeling my chance isn’t gone !! (Spoiler alert : I’m a 52 year old 12 handicapper.)…..

    Great insights ! Thanks…..

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