Montgomerie to launch Open bid at Gullane

File photo of crowds at Gullane during the 2002 Open qualifying. Picture: TSPL
File photo of crowds at Gullane during the 2002 Open qualifying. Picture: TSPL
Share this article
5
Have your say

STAR attraction Colin Montgomerie will have one of the Saltman brothers for company when he heads to East Lothian next Tuesday to take part in the final scramble for places in the forthcoming Open Championship at Muirfield.

Zack, the youngest of the golfing siblings – Elliot and Lloyd are also amongst the hopefuls – has been drawn with Montgomerie in the Local Final Qualifying at Gullane, where the pair will have English amateur Max Orrin as the other member of their group for the 36-hole test.

Since losing his exempt status for the world’s oldest major three years ago, Montgomerie has twice failed to qualify through the European International Final Qualifier at Sunningdale but he was unable to play in that on Monday due to the fact he was flying out to America, where he will make 
his over-50s debut in the US Senior Players’ Championship in Pittsburgh tomorrow.

Instead, the eight-times European No 1 will join 287 other hopefuls at four venues – Dunbar, Musselburgh and North 
Berwick are the other courses being used – vying for just 12 spots up for grabs in the third major of the season when it takes place on the East Lothian coast in three weeks’ time.

While the presence of Montgomerie alone is sure to attract a bumper crowd, Gullane will also play host to former PGA champion Andrew Oldcorn, who has set up the chance of making his 17th Open appearance at the age of 53 after winning Monday’s Regional Qualifier at Bruntsfield Links, as well as two-times European Tour winner Alastair Forsyth.

American Scott Dunlap, who tied for tenth behind Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie in 1999, is in the same group as Forsyth, while others in action at Gullane include Spaniard Pablo Martin, who was the first amateur to win a European Tour event when he captured the Estoril Open de Portugal title in 2007, and 
Korean Byeong-Hun An, who won the 2009 US Amateur Championship at 17 – the youngest to claim that title.

Another Korean, Jin Jeong, who won the Amateur Championship at Muirfield in 2010, will stage his attempt to secure a return trip at Dunbar, where he’ll have India’s Shiv Kapur, runner-up to Richie Ramsay in the 2009 South African Open, as one of his playing partners. Also in the line-up at the town’s East Links, where Australian Steve Elkington qualified 11 years ago before making the four-man play-off won by Ernie Els as he claimed the Claret Jug, are Michael Stewart and Alan Dunbar, both members of the winning Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup side at Royal Aberdeen in 2011.

Having suffered an early exit from the Scottish Boys’ Championship when he was defending that title at Dunbar two years ago, Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest will be hoping for a more enjoyable visit on this occasion, when he’ll have Englishman Robert Dinwiddie, the 2005 Scottish Stroke-Play champion, as one of his playing partners.

Like Forrest, Raymond Russell is trying to qualify for his home Open and the Prestonpans man, who finished joint fourth alongside Justin Rose in the 1998 event at Royal Birkdale, is heading for North Berwick, where the line-up also includes two former Ryder Cup players, Peter Baker and Paul Broadhurst.

Swede Peter Hedblom, winner of the 2009 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, is also there, as are a posse of Scots, including former Scottish 
Challenge winners George Murray and Jamie McLeary, Eisenhower Trophy-winning team member Callum Macaulay and Graham Rankin, who played on the same Walker Cup team as Luke Donald and Paul Casey at Nairn in 1999.

For its first taste of hosting a local final qualifier, Musselburgh will also have a former Ryder Cup player, Swede Jarmo 
Sandelin, amongst its visitors, the field there also including Lloyd Saltman, the leading amateur at St Andrews eight years ago, and Frenchman Christian Cevear, a two-times European Tour winner.

American Marty Jertson is at Monktonhall as well and so, too, are highly-rated English duo Sam Hutsby and Toby Tree, the latter being one of the leading contenders for the Great Britain & Ireland side that will defend the Walker Cup in America later this year.

OPEN DOOR

Five International Final Qualifiers around the world over the past few months have earned the following players spots at Muirfield:

Australasia

Mark Brown (NZ)

Steven Jeffress (Aus)

Stephen Dartall (Aus)

Asia

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)

*Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn)

Daisuke Maruyama (Jpn)

Ashun Wu (China)

Africa

Justin Harding (SA)

Eduardo de la Riva (Sp)

Darryn Lloyd (SA)

America

Josh Teater (USA)

Johnson Wagner (USA)

Camilo Villegas (Col)

Scott Brown (USA)

Brian Davis (Eng)

Robert Karlsson (Swe)

Luke Guthrie (USA)

Bud Cauley (USA)

Europe

Brooks Koepka (USA)

Oliver Fisher (Eng)

Alvaro Quiros (Spain)

Gregory Bourdy (Fra)

Richard McEvoy (Eng)

Gareth Maybin (NIre)

Niclas Fasth (Swe)

Scott Jamieson (Sco)

Estanislao Goya (Arg)

* denotes amateur