Pike credits Day for British Open berth

Aaron Pike has paid tribute to Jason Day for helping him with his game.
Aaron Pike has paid tribute to Jason Day for helping him with his game.

Aaron Pike began the Australian Open week trying to ignore a wave of online criticism for close mate Jason Day withdrawing from the tournament.

On Sunday, Pike secured one of three spots in the 2020 British Open field and credited former world No.1 Day for helping him secure a dream major championship debut.

The Australian Open is the first event of the British Open qualifying series, which awards spots to the leading three players in the top 10 in Sydney who are not already exempt.

Pike (69) finished tied third at nine under par, five strokes behind winner Matt Jones (69).

Jones claimed a second Open crown at The Australian GC when he defeated South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen (66) by one shot.

Jones also snared a British Open berth, as did Japan's amateur world No.1 Takumi Kanaya (71) for sharing third with Pike.

Day was slated to contest just his fourth Australian Open as a pro but withdrew from the event, and next week's Presidents Cup, citing a chronic back injury.

The 2015 US PGA Championship winner copped a barrage of online abuse, which Pike, 34, admits was hurtful to read.

"Absolutely, because I know how much pain he was actually in and how bad his back is," Pike told AAP.

"People want to criticise him because he's not coming but he has to look at the bigger picture."

Pike regularly visits Day in the US, playing and practising with the 12-time US PGA Tour winner at course at his home base in Ohio.

The world No.848 said seeing how a major champion works on his game had elevated his own and hoped Day would be proud..

"Especially because of the amount of time I've spent with him this year practising and training. He's been really driving me along," Pike said.

"Two or three months ago, he was telling me, 'Mate, there's no reason why you shouldn't be playing alongside me at these big tournaments.'

"He's helped a lot, psychologically, but on the course as well. I wouldn't be here without the guidance he's given me and the competitive nature of when we play and practise against one another."

The 149th British Open will be held at Royal St George's in England, where in 1993 Greg Norman won the Claret Jug for a second time.

The Open qualifying series includes 16 events in 11 countries, offering a minimum of 46 places in golf's oldest major.

Australian Associated Press