Struggling Campbell faces fight at Kingsbarns

FIVE years after beating Tiger Woods down the stretch to become US Open champion New Zealand's Michael Campbell finds himself in a very different battle in Scotland today.

Having tumbled to 769th in the world - he has not made a cut since last October - Campbell is among 288 players competing over 36 holes and across four courses for a mere 12 places in The Open at St Andrews next month.

Most of the players have already come through local qualifying and are hoping for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tee off alongside Woods and Phil Mickelson.

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But Campbell, who plays at Kingsbarns, has to go down this route because his five-year exemption for winning at Pinehurst ended last year and his world ranking was not good enough to get him into the international qualifier at Sunningdale earlier this month.

St Andrews is where he led with a round to go in only the second major he had ever played 15 years ago before finishing just a stroke behind John Daly and Costantino Rocca.

When final qualifying was left as his way back Campbell said: "If that's what I have to do then that's what I will do - St Andrews is very close to my heart."

Not that he is the only big name taking part. At Fairmont, St Andrews Ryder Cup trio Phillip Price, Barry Lane and Joakim Haeggman are in the field, while Ladybank has Phillip Archer and Jamie Spence - two of the players who have shot 60 on the European Tour. At Scotscraig former Ryder Cup Swede Jarmo Sandelin partners 55-year-old Edoardo Romero, a winner of 74 professional titles.

Justin Rose had also entered and was given a tee-off time at Kingsbarns, but his Memorial Tournament win in the States has set him up to take one of two "current form" spots on offer on the US Tour and he is playing there this week.

Among the Scots taking part is Lloyd Saltman, who is back at Scotscraig, where he qualified in 2005 before going on to claim the silver medal as leading amateur behind Woods.

Saltman's big brother, Elliot, is at Ladybank and they'll be hoping to make it a family affair for the second year running after making it through to Turnberry 12 months ago.

One player with an added incentive to make it to St Andrews is Edinburgh man Craig Gordon. He roomed with new US Open champion Graeme McDowell at the University of Alabahma and caddied for the Northern Irishman when he won his first professional event on the European Tour. He is hoping to be reunited with McDowell in a practice round.