Canada’s Cockerill has eye on The Open Championship after second place finish in Japan

OMITAMA, JAPAN - APRIL 23: Aaron Cockerill of Canada acknowledges the gallery after holing out on the 18th green during day four of the ISPS Handa - Championship at PGM Ishioka GC on April 23, 2023 in Omitama, Ibaraki, Japan. (Photo by Yoshimasa Nakano/Getty Images)

A near-win at the ISPS Handa Championship has Canada’s Aaron Cockerill dreaming of the first major of his career.

Cockerill lost to Australia’s Lucas Herbert in a two-hole playoff at PGM Ishioka Golf Club in Omitama, Japan, on Sunday. That second-place finish moved Cockerill up to 25th on the DP World Tour’s points list and within range of a berth at the upcoming British Open.

“If I keep moving up and stay high on the Race to Dubai standings, there’s a chance that I could play in maybe a couple of majors this year, which would be a first for me,” said Cockerill, who is based in Dubai and is a regular on the Europe-based DP World Tour.

Cockerill, who is from Stony Mountain, Man., has until June 28 to qualify himself for the British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on July 16. His clearest route is to be one of the top five players, not already exempt for the Open, within the top 20 of the Race to Dubai Rankings through the BMW International Open in Munich.

Currently sitting 25th on that list has him within an iron’s distance of that goal, especially as several players ahead of him in the DP World Tour rankings – like former British Open champion Rory McIlroy and world No. 1 Jon Rahm – already have spots at the prestigious event based on other qualifications.

Cockerill also moved up to 250th in the men’s world golf rankings, the highest Canadian not on the PGA Tour. Golf Canada recognized him as its player of the week for the strong showing in Japan.

He said it was “pretty cool” to be recognized by the national sport organization.

“I feel like sometimes it’s harder to keep track of golf over on the European Tour with the time zones and everything like that,” said Cockerill from Incheon, South Korea, where he will play in this week’s Korea Championship presented by Genesis. “It’s a little bit of an acknowledgment and some people who may forget about (the tour) will maybe tune in and pay attention to the golf on our tour as well.”

The 31-year-old Cockerill said that his game has been rounding into form this season because he’s more mature and that “all the boring stuff” is adding up.

“I take care of myself, I don’t really go out, I’m not drinking a whole lot,” said Cockerill. “I’m pretty disciplined with my practice. I set up a schedule of what I want to do every single week on tour, and I just tick them off, tick off the boxes and make sure I complete all my drills and games and maintenance things that I need to do throughout the week.”