The Arnold Palmer Invitational has become a staple of the PGA's spring schedule every year, but 2019's edition was the first time that the tournament was featured as part of The Open Qualifying Series.
With The 148th Open slowly creeping up, three spots were up for grabs at the Bay Hill Golf Course in Orlando, Florida.
Last year's Champion Golfer of the Year Francisco Molinari came out on top after shooting an impeccable 64 on the final day to finish at 12-under par, two strokes ahead of second place finisher Matthew Fitzpatrick.
With both Molinari and Fitzpatrick exempt from qualifying for The 148th Open, we had to move down the leaderboard to see who would confirm their ticket to Northern Ireland.
Arnold Palmer Invitational
South Korea's Sunjae Im is headed to The Open for the first time after finishing T3 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Im finished the tournament at 9-under par, which was level with Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera-Bello — both are exempt from qualifying for The Open.
The 20-year old made a surge on the final day, shooting 4-under par to get on equal ground with Fleetwood and Cabrera-Bello and to punch his ticket to Royal Portrush in 2019.
The Open will be the third major championship that Im has competed in — he didn't make the cut at the 2018 U.S. Open and finished T42 at the 2018 PGA Championship.
Im is the 2018 WEB.com Tour Player of the Year and will be looking to make the most of his qualification for 2019's final major championship.
Keith Mitchell's hopes of earning an Open Qualifying Series spot didn't look good at Bay Hill through three rounds.
Sitting at 2-under par, the American needed to put on a show if he had any hopes of earning his first bid to The Open. Luckily, the pressure didn't get to him because he didn't even know what was on the line.
After shooting an impressive 6-under on Sunday, Mitchell remarked that he didn't realize that he was in contention for the qualifying spots to Royal Portrush.
Regardless, Mitchell finished T6, which is a continuation of his excellent form as of late — he won his first PGA Tour championship at the Honda Classic the week prior.
Also finishing T6 was South Korean's Sung Kang, who shot a 68 on Sunday to claim the final ticket to The 148th Open.
After misplacing a ball on 15, which resulted in a double bogey, Kang locked down. He shot for birdie on 16 and hit a long putt on 18 to hold onto par and his spot on the leaderboard.
Kang will be playing in The Open for the third time after qualifying through the Quicken Loans National over the previous two years. He finished T44 in 2017 and T67 at Carnoustie in 2018 respectively.
Congratulations to Sungjae Im, Keith Mitchell and Sung Kang who qualify for The 148th Open via the @APinv. See you at Royal Portrush in July.— The Open (@TheOpen) March 10, 2019
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