Australian Deyen Lawson secured a place in the starting line-up for next month’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s after finishing at the top of the standings at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent, on a day of high drama in the final four qualifying places for the final major of the season.
Nicknamed ‘Digger’, Lawson followed a two-under-par 70 that mixed six birdies and four bogeys with a second-round 71 to finish at three-under-par 141. Sam Forgan and Connor Worsdall, who have secured the two remaining qualifying places available at the Kent links, just a short distance from where The Open will be played next month.
Worsdall, who became a professional only four years ago, started flying in the first round with a five-under-par 67 that included six birdies, but in the afternoon it went hard with the Englishman who during a three- age made six brackets. excessive 75.
Forgan, who finished first at the same place in his regional qualifying event last weekend, was level after the first round and started the second round convincingly early with three birdies on the bounce. However, a double bow 6 on his 16th hole led to a nervous finish with two key pairs in the final hole securing his biggest championship debut next month.
Up in Lancashire, Ben Hutchinson led the field at St Annes Old Links, who carted the rounds of 66 and 65 to finish at the top of the standings on a 13-under track record and qualify for The Open for the first time in his career.
The 25-year-old from Leeds plays from Howley Hall and has competed in the Challenge Tour and the MENA Tour. His run of three birdies into the locks of the second round was crucial to secure his place at Royal St George’s.
Along with him will be amateur Sam Bairstow, who fired nine birdies in an excellent shift-free 63 to set a new track record in the opening round. Three birdies on either side of the turn, including two in a row in the locks, ensured that the Englishman scored 69 for a second round and a total of 12 below the track mark. The winner of the Northern English Open Amateur Championship and Hampshire Salver in 2019, and a quarter-final during last month’s Amateur Championship, Bairstow will make his Open debut as he makes it off the coast of Kent.
The seven-time winner of the European Tour, Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño, was also in the first round in a sob disc that made him roll in seven birdies and an eagle, en route to an eight-under-64. ‘The Spaniard reached the final qualifying spot at the same point as Bairstow to reach The Open for the first time since 2014 when he played for Royal Liverpool. This will be his seventh appearance in the championship, with his best finish as 47th place at Turnberry in 2009.
Daniel Hillier led the qualifiers at Hollinwell in Nottinghamshire after clinching a birdie on the final hole to win local member Jonathan Thomson on a total of 11 under par.
The New Zealander started the event in an ominous form with an eight-under-par 64, which tied the course record, and included a remarkable run of five birdies from the 13th year, among a total of ten for the round. A three-under-69-year-old has ensured Hillier qualifies for The Open, and he will make his second appearance in a major championship after the U.S. Open.
Thomson welcomed the small group of members to his progress and he took advantage of the house to clinch the second qualifying spot at 10-under. The Englishman also debuted at The Open after rounds of 69 and 65 on his home series. Richard Mansell finishes one hold further back at nine-under-course figure to also ensure a first Open appearance.
Nicholas Poppleton was the leading thinner on West Lancashire on a 10-under total of 134 and he will take his place in The Open for the first time. The Englishman started with two birdies in the first round and picked up further strokes at 5 and 9 before the turn. Four extra birdies at 10, 11, 13 and 14 led to an opening of seven under 65, before following up a second round 69, which included five birdies.
South African Louis De Jager, who finished second in a total of seven under parks of 137, was three shots further. The 34-year-old, who has so far won five on the Sunshine Tour in his career, will also make his Open debut after rounds of 67 and 70 on the English golf coast.
The final place was reached by PGA Professional Daniel Croft, who finished one stroke further at six below. The Englishman played consistent golf in the first round and pitched three birdies in a two-under-par round of 70, before raising it by six birdies in the second round, including three-in-a-row from the 5th hole on the way to a 68.