Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall may have come up just short at the Australian Open, but they didn't leave Sydney empty-handed.
Smith and Hall both lost to Jordan Spieth on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, as Spieth rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt to rally for his second tournament title in the last three years. But the event marked the first of the 2017 Open Qualifying Series, as the top three finishers not otherwise exempt earned spots in the 2017 Open (you can view all Open qualifiers by clicking here).
Smith and Hall can both plan their schedules around a trip to Royal Birkdale next summer, while the third spot went to veteran Aaron Baddeley since Spieth was already exempt. Baddeley was among a group that finished tied for fourth at 11 under, one shot out of the playoff, but he got the exemption as the highest-ranked player among the group.
It will mark Baddeley's eighth Open Championship appearance, but first since a T-69 finish at Royal Lytham in 2012. While the 23-year-old Smith has already made four starts in majors, including a T-4 finish at the 2015 U.S. Open, this will mark his first appearance in golf's oldest major.
"It's the only major I haven't played in yet, so I'm keen to get over there," Smith told reporters. "That's the one with all the history. I'm looking forward to getting over there to see what I can do."
It'll be a second Open appearance for Hall, who started the week ranked No. 902 in the world and missed the cut in 2012 at Royal Lytham.
The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the Jan. 19-22 Singapore Open, where two more players will qualify for Royal Birkdale. The Open Championship will be held July 20-23, 2017.