European bid for Ryder Cup places heat up at The Open with Antoine Rozner and Sepp Straka on song

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European bid for Ryder Cup places heat up at The Open with Antoine Rozner and Sepp Straka on song

  • Places in Europe’s team for the Ryder Cup in September are up for grabs
  • Antoine Rozner and Sepp Straka sit tied for fourth on five under ahead of Sunday
  • A strong finish for the pair will boost their chances of making it to Rome

Whenever there’s a Ryder Cup around the corner, it is natural to look up at the leaderboard to see which European names are in the mix. 

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High up on those iconic yellow slats here at Royal Liverpool sit a bunch of the usual suspects. There is Jon Rahm, tied for second. Tommy Fleetwood’s up there too. And always good to see a Fitzpatrick among them, even if it is not the one you expect.

 What is often more exciting is seeing who outside the household names are both challenging to win the Open and forcing their way into the conversation for Rome as part of Luke Donald’s dozen in two months’ time. Frenchman Antoine Rozner and Austrian Sepp Straka sit tied for fourth on five under heading into the final round.

World No139 Rozner was one of the stars of the day thanks to his majestic chip in for eagle on the par-five 15th, over the greenside bunker and into the hole with a pump of the fist and finger to the sky. 

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His round finished in added style in front of the gallery when he rolled in an 8ft putt for birdie on the last and signed for a card of four-under 67. 

Rozner was one of the stars of the day thanks to majestic chip in for eagle on the par-five 15th

Rozner was one of the stars of the day thanks to majestic chip in for eagle on the par-five 15th

Straka began his round on four under but dropped a shot with a bogey five on the fourth

Straka began his round on four under but dropped a shot with a bogey five on the fourth

His only previous appearances in majors were two years ago, when he missed the cut at the PGA Championship and tied for 59th at the Open at Royal St George’s.

Straka, the world No28, began his round on four under but dropped a shot with a bogey five on the fourth. 

He followed a 27ft birdie putt on 10 with another birdie on 11 to move five under before yet another on 14 to make the most of his excellent approach play. 

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Over the course of the tournament so far, only two players have gained more strokes on their approach to the greens than Straka, whose only other appearance in the Open came when he missed the cut last year at St Andrews. It was a shame that usually sublime approach play let him down on the last where he laid up only to find the greenside bunker and take a bogey. 

Both go into the final round in the mix, even if a whopping seven shots behind runaway leader Brian Harman. 

A strong finish, especially for Straka, will boost their chances of making it to Rome in September for the Ryder Cup, whether by qualification or one of the six wildcards. They’re playing for more than just the Claret Jug. 

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