8am Round-Up: Martin Laird secures US Open spot

Martin Laird came through one of 10 sectional qualifiers for next week's major at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. Picture: Gettyy Images
Martin Laird came through one of 10 sectional qualifiers for next week's major at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. Picture: Gettyy Images
Share this article
0
Have your say

Three Scots will be teeing up in next week’s 117th US Open after Martin Laird joined Russell Knox and Richie Ramsay in the field at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

Laird secured his spot in the season’s second major by coming through a sectional qualifier - one of 10 being held on the same day - in Ohio.

The 34-year-old carded matching 67s at Brookside Golf & Country Club and The Lakes Golf & Country Club for a 10-under-par total.

That left him in a tie for fourth with 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink, former US PGA champion Keegan Bradley and 2007 Walker Cup player Jamie Lovemark in a battle for 14 spots.

Laird effectively secured what will be his sixth US Open appearance by storming to the turn in 31, five-under, in his second round.

“This morning I hit the ball really nicely and it felt like five-under could have been really good,” he said. “I didn’t miss a green, which I don’t think I’ve done in a while.

“It was pretty windy here (The Lakes) but shooting five-under on my front nine meant I was taking a less risks on back nine as I knew 10-under was probably pretty good and I’m happy to get in.”

Just over a week ago, Knox, who has an exemption, was the sole Scot in next week’s field before Ramsay came through the European sectional qualifier at Walton Heath.

Two other Scots, Jimmy Gunn and James Ross, missed out in yesterday’s 36-hole shoot-outs in the US.

Gunn, who qualified for the event at Chambers Bay two years ago, missed out by a shot on getting into a play-off in Memphis after rounds of 69 and 67 for a six-under total.

At the same venue, Edinburgh man James Ross finished on three-under following scores of 68 and 71.

Wisconsin man Steve Stricker finished first there, securing a spot in an event being played for the first time in his home state after being denied an special exemption by the USGA.

“It means a lot,” he said after posting rounds of 67 and 65 for a 10-under total. “Not getting an exemption was a motivational factor.

“Not that I deserved one, but it’s been driving me to achieve this goal. And I’m just happy that I’m going to get to play. It’s a relief to get to play in the first one in my home state.”

Former world No 1 Luke Donald failed in his bid, as did two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen.

***

Helped by a hole-in-one, Kelsey MacDonald secured a spot in next month’s US Women’s Open and was joined in passing a qualifying test for the event at Bedminster in New Jersey by Carly Booth.

The Scottish duo joined Swede Caroline Hedwall and England’s Meghan MacLaren in earning the berths up for grabs in a 36-hole shoot-out at the Buckinghamshire, where MacDonald had double cause for celebration after making her ace at the 153-yard 14th in the second round.

She came through along with MacLaren in a three-way play-off for the final two spots after Booth and Hedwall, a three-time Solheim Cup player, had finished joint-first with one-under-par 143 totals.

Booth, who lost out in a Twitter poll for a spot in last week’s event on the LPGA Tour, had her fate in her own hands on this occasion and finished in style with a birdie.

“It was a roller-coaster out there,” said the two-time LET winner. “The wind was switching and it was raining sideways. It was like a battlefield, but I stayed strong, stayed positive and stayed patient.”

The 24-year-old will be making her second US Open appearance after being exempt for the 2013 event, as will MacDonald, who came through the same test in 2014.

“It was a bit daunting,” said the 26-year-old of that experience at Pinehurst, “so I know that this year I will enjoy the experience a lot more and feel more comfortable. I just can’t wait. I’m buzzing!”

Worth $5 million, the US Women’s Open takes place on 13-17 July.

***

A whole host of records could be under threat in the Northern Open over the next three days if the Tartan Tour’s leading lights maintain some recent scintillating form at Moray Golf Club in Lossiemouth.

The build up to the first major of the season on the Scottish circuit has witnessed a spate of low scoring, notably Alastair Forsyth’s 61 at Pollok, Paul O’Hara carding 61 and 63 at Largs and Bishopbriggs respectively and Christopher Currie posting a 62 at Portpatrick.

“The standard of golf on the Tartan Tour so far this year has been incredible,” said PGA in Scotland secretary Shona Malcolm. “The bar has definitely been raised, and the players are showcasing their talent everywhere they go.”

Eighteen years after lifting the title, Forsyth is bidding for a second Northern Open victory in an event that sees Greig Hutcheon defending the crown he regained at Royal Dornoch just under 12 months ago.