Open Championship golf: Scots will be thin on ground at Open
SCOTTISH representation in next month’s Open Championship could be as little as three players after the Caledonian contingent drew a blank in yesterday’s European International Final Qualifying event at Sunningdale.
While there is still a chance for the number to be bolstered after next week’s Local Final Qualifying events in Lancashire, as things stand only Paul Lawrie, Martin Laird and Sandy Lyle will be flying the Saltire at Royal Lytham.
Four weeks after taking two strokes too many in the US Open qualifier, one-time Open perennial Colin Montgomerie missed out by one on this occasion after rounds of 66 and 70 for a three-under-par total.
The former Ryder Cup captain now needs a top-five finish in either the French or Scottish Open to avoid missing the world’s oldest major for the second successive year, having chalked up a proud run of 21 straight appearances prior to that.
Montgomerie, who needed to hole a bunker shot on the final hole to go into a play-off but couldn’t conjure up the magical effort he required – he had the length but it finished six feet wide – left without comment.
On a disappointing day for the Scots, Alastair Forsyth suffered the agony of losing out in a play-off for the last of the ten spots up for grabs on 19-22 July.
After signing for scores of 69 and 66, the two-time European Tour winner first found himself among five players battling for two spots then it was down to him and Lee Slattery for the final one.
With Dane Thorbjorn Olesen already safely through, Forsyth’s approach to the 17th finished on the left of the green but, after chipping up to three feet, he missed the par putt to leave Slattey Lytham-bound instead.
“I’m gutted, to be honest,” said Forsyth. “To get that close and then miss an easy putt like that is a bit of a hard one to take.”
Stephen Gallacher finished alongside Montgomerie, while Scott Jamieson (140) was the only other of the Scots in the field to post a two-round total. The others, including Marc Warren, who came through the aforementioned US Open qualifier, either withdrew after the first round or posted no returns in the afternoon.
Jose Maria Olazabal, this year’s European Ryder Cup captain, also missed out, as did Tom Lewis, who shared the first-round lead at Royal St George’s last summer as an amateur.
Among those to make it through, however, was Sam Walker, who celebrated a second Scottish Hydro Challenge win on Sunday by sealing his Open debut at the 11th time of asking.
Walker, who made his first try to qualify 14 years ago when he was 20, finished second to fellow Englishman James Morrison.
“It’s been a massive 24 hours for me – I should rush around more often,” said the 34-year-old from Birmingham, who flew home from Inverness after his win in Aviemore on Sunday and then set off at 5am yesterday in order to make his tee-off time.
On a hectic day of qualifying, Bruntsfield Links and Goswick were among 14 venues staging regional events, the successful players in those now going forward to the Local Final Qualifying.
Among them will be Fife amateur James White, who earned a share of top spot with a four-under 67 at Bruntsfield Links and is now hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father, Jim, who played in the 1988 Open at Lytham. “He still talks about that and if I get through it might shut him up,” joked last year’s Scottish Order of Merit winner.
Keeping up the form that earned him a bronze medal in last week’s Amateur Championship, Baberton’s Paul Ferrier came through at Goswick, as did Walker Cup player Michael Stewart after a play-off.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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