Elliot Saltman and Steven O’Hara earn Open spots
elliot Saltman and Steven O’Hara both came through nerve- racking play-offs last night to earn spots in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham in a fortnight’s time.
It means the Scottish contingent at the Lancashire venue will be at least six-strong, with Paul Lawrie, Martin Laird, Sandy Lyle and Richie Ramsay all being exempt for this year’s event.
Saltman passed the Local Final Qualifying test for the second time in four years, the Archerfield Links player having also qualified – along with his youngger brother Lloyd – at Turnberry in 2009.
He came through on this occasion at Southport & Ainsdale, where rounds of 68 and 70 earned him a place in a three-man play-off for two spots.
It also involved fellow Scot Chris Doak, who dropped three shots in his final holes to miss out on winning the 36-hole event, and Liverpudlian Ian Keenan.
At the first play-off hole – a par-3 – Doak missed the green with his tee shot and was unable to get up and down from a mound while Saltman and Keenan safely made pars.
“I’m delighted to qualify again and also glad that one of the Saltmans will be flying the flag at Lytham,” said Saltman, who had birdied his final hole to get into the play-off.
O’Hara will be making his first appearance in golf’s oldest major after he came through at the fifth extra hole in his shoot-out at West Lancs.
The former Scottish Amateur champion shot rounds of 70 and 69 to finish tied with American duo Scott Pinckney and Marty Jertson as well as Welsh amateur Richard Benthan. With only two spots up for grabs, Pinckney, a former college team-mate of James Byrne who played in the East of Scotland Open at Lundin a few years back, birdied the first to seal the first of them. Bentham then dropped out with a bogey at the next before O’Hara went through with a par at the fifth extra hole.
“It’s a boyhood dream to play in The Open, having watched it on TV,” said the Scot, who will step on to the first tee at Lytham two days after celebrating his 32nd birthday.
“I’ve played Lytham plenty of times in the Lytham Trophy and played well there plenty of times.
“It suits my game so I am looking forward to it.”
He added: “I hit the ball great all day. I three-putted the first out of nowhere and thought ‘here we go’. But I didn’t miss many greens and played solidly.
“In the play-off it was a case of just trying to hit the middle of the greens. It was not a time for Hollywood shots.
“It was really special to have my dad [Charlie] caddying for me. We used to spend a lot of time together when I was an amateur and today brought back all sorts of boyhood memories.”
Amateur Paul Shields just missed out on boosting that Scottish contingent as he was foiled late in the day at Hillside. The two-time Scottish Boys’ Championship runner-up stormed home in five-under 31 for a second-round 66 and a five-under total of 139.
That looked as though it was going to be good enough for at least a play-off until Englishman Steven Tiley, playing in the last group, came in with a second successive 69 to knock Shields out of the qualifying spots.
Former Ryder Cup pair Paul Broadhurst and Barry Lane, as well as Dale Whitnell, Warren Bennett, Morten Orum Madsen, Rafael Echenique and Steven Alker, were the other qualifiers.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 6 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west