Qualification for The Open was first introduced in 1907, and involves the process a player must go through to play in the prestigious fourth major of the year. So just how does Open Qualifying work? And how many spots are filled this way? Let us explain…
There are multiple ways in which players can qualify for the 156-man field. While around 65% of spots in golf’s oldest major are filled by exempt qualifiers, a minimum of 46 places are then filled by players earning a place through either the Open Qualifying Series, or Regional and Final Qualifying.
Who is eligible for Open Qualifying?
Open Qualifying is open to any professional golfer or amateur with a handicap of scratch or better.
How much does it cost?
In 2022, the entry fee was £150 per player.
How does Regional Qualifying work?
Regional Qualifying takes place at 15 venues across the UK in June, and is open to any professional golfer or amateur with a handicap of scratch or better.
The venues for Regional Qualifying in 2022 included Alwoodley, Burhill, Caldy, County Louth, Fairhaven, Frilford Heath, Goswick, Kedleston Park, Lindrick, Minchinhampton, Moor Park, Northamptonshire County, Panmure, Rochester & Cobham Park and The Buckinghamshire.
After 18 holes, the best placed finishers at each Regional Qualifying event then progress to Final Qualifying.
And Final Qualifying?
Final Qualifying for The Open consists of four events of 36 holes on one day and take place at the end of June.
Who went through in 2022?
For 2022, the minimum number of places up for grabs has increased from 12 to 16, meaning four players from each Final Qualifying event will now earn a spot in the field at the 150th Open.
At St Annes Old Links, DP World Tour winner Marcus Armitage and Sam Bairstow, runner-up in The Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes to South African Aldrich Potgieter two weeks ago, topped the standings on an 8-under-par total of 136.
Armitage carded two rounds of 68 to secure his third appearance in The Open, while it was a case of history repeating itself for English amateur Bairstow who earned his place through Final Qualifying at the same venue for the second year running.
They will be joined by Matthew Jordan, who finished one stroke behind on a 7-under-par total of 137. The Royal Liverpool golfer, who won the St Andrews Links Trophy as an amateur, put together rounds of 69 and 68 to earn his first ever appearance in The Open and a major championship debut next month.
The fourth qualifying place was determined by a two-way play-off between John Parry and Daniel Kay who tied for fourth place on 6-under-par, with the former’s par at the second play-off hole enough.
At Hollinwell, amateur Barclay Brown set the early pace after rounds of 68 and 72 gave him the clubhouse lead on a 4-under-par total of 140.
An eagle on the par-5 3rd got the Great Britain & Ireland international off to a strong start and he picked up two birdies on the 14th and 16th to complete an excellent first round. A steady level-par 72 in the second round ensured the Stanford University student claimed the first qualifying place with no one in the field able to catch him.
Richard Mansell followed a similar path to The Open after earning his place in the Championship through Final Qualifying at Hollinwell for the second year running. Despite an opening one-over-par 73, the Englishman fought back in the second round to card a three-under-par round of 70 for a one-under-par total.
He was joined on the same mark by Oliver Farr and the three-time Challenge Tour winner will tee it up in The Open for the first time along with Marco Penge who finished a shot further back on a level par total of 144.
In sunny, but windy conditions on the Kent coast, Matthew Ford qualified for The Open to make his major championship debut after he led the qualifiers at Prince’s on a 5-under-par total of 139.
The Englishman started off with a steady round of 71 before experiencing a rollercoaster second round in which he mixed two eagles and three birdies with a double bogey and two bogeys.
Nevertheless, a four-under-par 68 led to Ford finishing two shots clear at the top of the leaderboard ahead of compatriot Jamie Rutherford and Irishman Ronan Mullarney, a former R&A Foundation Scholar, who tied for second on three-under-par. Both players matched each other with rounds of 70 and 71.
A play-off decided the final qualifying place as Matthew Southgate’s birdie putt from five feet slipped agonisingly past the hole on the last to leave five players level on two-under-par. Jack Floydd went on to prevail among the group of hopefuls in sudden death with a birdie at the first play-off hole.
David Carey came out on top at Fairmont St Andrews after he finished ahead of the field on a 7-under-par total of 137. The Dubliner, who visited the Old Course 24 hours earlier to take in the surroundings, was inspired to post a bogey-free 69 followed by a 68 which included an eagle and two birdies to clinch a berth in the field for The Open in July when he will make his debut.
Robert Dinwiddie will return to compete in The Open for the first time since Royal Birkdale in 2017. The three-time Challenge Tour winner finished four shots adrift of Carey on a three-under-par total but secured the second qualifying place at the Fife venue
Dutchman Lars Van Meijel and Alex Wrigley emerged from a three-way play-off against Aaron Rai as the trio competed for the two remaining places after finishing locked together on 2-under-par.
Two pars were enough against Rai’s bogey five as the pair held their nerve to edge out the two-time winner on the DP World Tour and claim the two remaining qualifying places.
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