A record field will attempt to qualify for The Open 2013 in this week’s Australasian International Final Qualifying (IFQ) at Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne.
The road to The Open, which takes place at Muirfield from July 14-21, begins down under with 72 of the continent’s leading players competing for the three spots available in golf’s oldest Major Championship.
Rising stars from Australia and New Zealand including last year’s qualifiers, Aaron Townsend, Nick Cullen and Ashley Hall, will play alongside Tour veterans Peter Fowler, Craig Parry and Peter O’Malley over 36 holes on Tuesday, January 29 and Wednesday, January 30.
The highest ranked player in the field is Kurt Barnes, who qualified for The Open at Royal St George’s in 2011 and St Andrews in 2010 where he missed the cut on both occasions. He will be up against last month’s Australian PGA Championship winner Daniel Popovic and Kieran Pratt, who finished tied for fourth in the Australian Open. New Zealand’s highest ranked player Michael Hendry, who won last year’s New Zealand Pro-Am championship, will also be a contender.
Fowler lifted the Australian Senior Open title last month, a remarkable 29 years after he won the Australian Open. The European Seniors Tour player’s best finish in The Open was tied 22nd at Royal St George’s in 2003. He has progressed through qualifying three times in 2005, 2007 and 2008. Parry has played in The Open on 17 occasions with his best finish coming in 1999 at Carnoustie when he finished in a tie for fourth. Best known for his Scottish Open victory in 1992, O’Malley’s highest finish at The Open was tied seventh at Royal Troon in 1997.
There are two amateurs in the field. Australia’s Cameron Smith is on form after his victory in last week’s Australian Amateur. He also tied for 14th in last month’s Australian Open along with compatriot Adam Scott, who was the runner-up at last year’s Open Championship. Brady Watt, who finished second in the WA Open Championship in October, has just broken in to the top ten of the World Amateur Golf Rankings moving to seventh position.
International Final Qualifying for The Open continues in Asia at Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok, Thailand on 28 February and 1 March. IFQ Africa takes place at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in South Africa on 5 and 6 March. It is followed by IFQ America at Gleneagles Country Club in Texas on 20 May and IFQ Europe at Sunningdale in England on 24 June.
For the draw and full hole-by-hole scores from IFQ Australasia click here.