This is what the Open Championship is all about – Yorkshire’s Chris Hanson has been trying to qualify since his amateur days in 2004. Then, at Final Qualifying at Hillside, he shot two rounds of 69 to make it into a four-man play-off. Three places were up for grabs.
A par at the second extra hole was enough for Hanson, factory worker John Singleton and Oscar Floren to make their way to Royal Liverpool.
On Thursday, at 11.05, the 28-year-old will again pair up with Floren, and Japan’s Yoshinobu Tsukada, but this time in the biggest week of his life.
The first time I tried to qualify locally was as an amateur in 2004 and I got through to Final Qualifying at Irvine Bogside. I have since tried every other year apart from the last couple of years when it has clashed with the Challenge Tour.
This year I entered on the last day – my wife pushed me a little bit and it fitted well with the schedule. I then qualified, flew to Germany the following morning, was obviously still on a massive high after Hillside and then came third which was my best result on the Challenge Tour.
I came to Hoylake last Wednesday and played on my own which was probably good to get my bearings. I then played nine Monday morning and then a few holes with Chris Stroud and Shawn Stefani who was second to Justin Rose recently.
I then jumped across to 17 and played the last couple with Ben Curtis, Freddie Jacobson and Graham DeLaet. On Tuesday I paired up with Angel Cabrera, Jamie McLeary and Todd Hamilton joined us for the last few. So I have played with three Major champions already!
"It will be a case of hanging on for nine and then hopefully making some ground" – Chris Hanson
The last time I played Hoylake was in the 2004 British Boys when I got to the semi-finals. That was my amateur highlight; I was off 1 and everyone else was +2. I lost to Pablo Martin in the semis and Rhys Davies won the final.
Otherwise I played a few university matches here for Central Lancashire. When you see it with stands up you don’t recognise everything, maybe three or four holes.
When I played it last week I said to my caddy I thought there were nine tough holes and nine where you could have a chance of a birdie. So it will be a case of hanging on for nine and then hopefully making some ground.
I hit nine drivers in the practice round, a lot of the bunkers are about 300 yards away so, into the wind, that’s out of range. Cabrera was hitting 3-wood where I hit driver. If you can have a 7-iron in instead of a 4 it makes a big difference so is worth it.
I thought I would be nervous in just the practice round last week but so far I have been OK. It might all be a bit different on Thursday morning!
You feel a bit blinkered to it all, you sign a few autographs and today I have been hitting balls four people down from Tiger but you can still do your own thing. TaylorMade have been brilliant in looking after me in terms of clubs, I’ve had some new shoes from FootJoy and a limited edition Scotty Cameron putter. It has all been incredible.
The biggest event I had previously played in would be the
Austrian Open which was my first European Tour event that wasn’t co-sanctioned. So it is quite a leap but I feel really settled in and ready to go.
Chris is an ambassador for Stromberg clothing www.stromberggolf.com
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ hansonprogolf