It's one of golf's toughest tests, but who has come through Open Final Qualifying? Mark Townsend has all the details
Across four venues there was the usual Open Final Qualifying drama as 12 players emerged from a pack of 288 to book their tickets to Royal Portrush.
The latest finish came at Hollinwell as, at 9.30pm, Ashton Turner saw off his stablemate Dave Coupland to grab the final spot of the day at the third extra hole. Turner, who had a form of cerebral palsy called ataxia as a baby and had to wear a crash helmet for the first three years at school, also made it to Carnoustie last year after doing likewise at the same qualifying venue.
Brilliant from Turner. He will have 4 feet for par pic.twitter.com/w00E8P1pCC
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 2, 2019
Rockliffe Hall’s Andrew Wilson led the way at Notts and it will be his first Open and comes just six months after he turned pro.
“I felt pretty confident until I bogeyed 15 and 16 and after that I was just praying for two pars. I’m buzzing now but I’ve got to drive home and then go to the next EuroPro Tour event tomorrow.”
Chartham Park’s Thomas Thurloway, part of the Walker Cup squad and last year’s English Amateur champion, took second spot with back-to-back 69s. His Walker Cup squad mates Tom Sloman and Jake Burnage missed out on the play-off by a shot.
Exciting to get through regional open qual in a playoff today despite playing 13 holes in fog where my bushnell wouldn’t work past 50 yards 👍 reminded me of the amateur days; brought a tear to my eye! pic.twitter.com/HIH4Y4RjHD
— Andrew Wilson (@andrew_wilson94) June 24, 2019
For the second year in a row Jack Senior did the business at St Annes Old Links after birdieing five holes on the trot in his second round to finish alongside Newcastle-on-Tyne’s Garrick Porteous on 10-under, both players recording a pair of 67s, and Matt Baldwin, who had the round of the day in Lancashire with a morning 65, snuck in with a closing birdie a shot behind.
The youngest qualifier came at Prince’s as 18-year-old amateur Curtis Knipes led the way with Callum Shinkwin, who threw in a 65 in the afternoon, at nine under. The England Boys International dropped a shot at his penultimate hole and then drove into a bunker at the last but he pitched and putted to seal his return to Portrush where he reached the last 16 in the British Boys.
For Shinkwin, who has two missed Open cuts to his name, he’ll be relieved that he changed his plans.
“I was going to play with some mates at Royal St George’s today so I’m glad I remembered I was due to play here. I had to save par on 16 and 17 and then had a 15-footer at the last and knew birdie would guarantee a spot so it was great when it went in.”
Canada’s Austin Connelly got through a play-off at nearby Cinque Ports en route to his 14th place at Birkdale in 2017 and he thought there might be some additional holes after bogeying the last. In the end Julian Suri just missed with his birdie putt at 18 and David Howell agonisingly three-putted the last which saw Connelly through.
Unbelievable! 4 birdies in a row sends @JSenior88 to 9 under par.
He made it through FQ @stannesgreens last year and now has a great chance again in 2019!
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 2, 2019
And at Fairmont St Andrews it was another amateur, American Brandon Wu, who dazzled with rounds of 64-67 to lead the way by three shots. He recently helped Stanford to the NCAA Championship in his senior year before being presented with his graduation diploma as he came off the 18th green at Pebble Beach after playing with Dustin Johnson on the Sunday of last month’s US Open.
“It has been a crazy run and today was fantastic, playing on a beautiful course with beautiful views. This was the only competition I played over here on this trip, though I came over a week ago and got acclimated, as we say in the US.”
And a pair of Scots, Connor Syme and Sam Locke, are also headed to Northern Ireland. Syme played at Birkdale two years ago after coming through qualifying at Gailes Links and he pieced together a pair of 67s and last year’s Silver Medal winner Locke, who turned pro after Carnoustie, held his nerve with an up-and-down from behind a wall at his closing hole for a 67. In the end he finished two clear of a trio of players.
Syme said afterwards: “The experience of qualifying at Gailes really helped me. I didn’t feel nervous at all, which was great. I got to the semi-finals in the Amateur Championship at Portrush in 2014. It was my first year as a senior golfer. I struggled a bit at the start of that year but that was a kind of breakthrough.”
Finally, spare a thought for India’s Shiv Kapur. His clubs never made it so he had to borrow a set and he then had to withdraw with blisters from his new shoes after a handful of holes in the afternoon.
Open Final Qualifying: St Annes Old Links
- Garrick Porteous
- Jack Senior
- Matthew Baldwin
Open Final Qualifying: Prince’s
- Curtis Knipes (a)
- Callum Shinkwin
- Austin Connelly
Open Final Qualifying: Hollinwell
- Andrew Wilson
- Thomas Thurloway (a)
- Ashton Turner
Open Final Qualifying: Fairmont St Andrews
- Brandon Wu (a)
- Connor Syme
- Sam Locke