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Montgomerie Qualifies for the Open Championship after 12-man Play-Off


Colin Montgomerie, who had not missed an Open Golf Championship since 1989 – ironically at Royal Troon – ensured he will be back at the Ayrshire links where he learned the game next month. The Scot was one of six players to come through a 12-man play-off in the International Final Qualifying competition at Sunningdale, Surrey, England.

There was a three-way tie for first place between Englishmen Paul Broadhurst and Mark Foster and Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium on 134, nine under par, over the Sunningdale Old and New Courses.

That trio were among a group of 11 players who qualified without recourse to a sudden-death play-off on a score of 136 and better. However it meant that a dozen golfers were left to battle it out for the remaining six places – a total of 17 from the 120 strong field who set out at 6.30am on their 36-hole marathon.

Almost 14 hours later, watched by several hundred enthusiasts who enjoyed a free ticket to see many of the greats of the game vying for a place in the 133rd Open Championship, the play-off began.

Among them were five European Tour winners in Warren Bennett of England, Sweden’s Peter Hedblom, Maarten Lafeber of The Netherlands, Montgomerie and Argentina’s Eduardo Romero.

Experience played a major part in the sudden-death action, which began at the first hole of the New Course. All five parred the first along with Cesar Monasterio of Argentina and Sweden’s Marten Olander, forcing Gonzalo Fernandex-Castano, Ian Garbutt, Mark Pilkington, Rob Rashell and Sam Walker to drop out.

At the second extra hole, Bennett, Lafeber and Romero made conventional par threes, while Hedblom, Montgomerie and Olander made superb up and downs for par, leaving Monasterio as the unlucky player to make bogey, securing the role of First Alternate.

As a result, seven-time Volvo Order of Merit winner, Montgomerie, was assured of a place back at the town and the course where he first learned the game of golf. A weary Montgomerie, who shot 68-69 for 137 earlier in the day ,admitted: “It’s been a very tough day. I suppose I’ve got in through the back door.

“I was 51st in the world when the cut off point came so I missed out on an automatic exemption. This is the first decent thing that’s happened to me for a long time. We’re back at Royal Troon where I know every blade of grass and I expect I will get a lot of support up there. At the moment I am very happy.”

It was certainly a dramatic day all round, with many leading players not quite managing to qualify for next month’s Open Championship. Three of Europe’s 2002 Ryder Cup Team – Pierre Fulke, Bernhard Langer and Jesper Parnevik – all missed out, the latter after missing a ten footer on the last which would have secured a play-off berth.

Also missing out were Masters Champions, José Maria Olazábal and Ian Woosnam, while England’s Justin Rose shared the first round lead with a 65 but followed it up with an erratic 73 to be one of eight players on 138 who fell one stroke short of the play-off.

Paul Mcginley
Meanwhile another Ryder Cup hero, Paul McGinley of Ireland, secured his place just 700 yards from his Sunningdale home. McGinley opened with a 70 but followed up with a fine 65 in the afternoon to qualify on 135 along with recent Diageo Championship winner, Miles Tunnicliff.


Courtesy of www.europeantour.com  

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