Playoff loser Stefani among 4 Open qualifiers


Shawn Stefani may have lost in a playoff at the Quicken Loans National, but he earned a nice consolation prize Sunday: a tee time at next month’s Open Championship.

This week’s PGA Tour event was part of the new Open Qualifying Series that comprises 14 tournaments in nine countries. The low four players inside the top 12 (and ties) at Congressional who were not already exempt would earn a spot in the year’s third major.

One of those spots, of course, went to Stefani, who missed a 20-foot birdie putt to win in regulation, then went for the hero shot in the playoff and instead made double bogey to lose to Justin Rose.

The upcoming Open will be just the third major start of Stefani’s career, following appearances at the U.S. Open in 2009 and ’13. 

“I’ve never been over there,” he said, “so I’m looking forward to getting over there and seeing how the course is playing.”

Charley Hoffman, Ben Martin and Brendan Steele also earned spots at Hoylake. 

Hoffman closed with 69 to vault 12 spots on the leaderboard and finish T-3, while a late hole-out from the bunker helped Martin (also T-3) secure his first major start as a pro.

Steele and Andres Romero tied for fifth at 2-under 282, but Steele got the Open nod because he has a higher world ranking than Romero (120 to 294).

The Greenbrier will offer four more Open berths to players among the top 12, while the John Deere Classic will award one final spot to a player not already exempt who finishes in the top 5.