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Record breaking Johannessen leads the way to Final Qualifying

23 June 2014 20:56 BST

Royal Liverpool

Norwegian amateur Kristian Johannessen moved a step closer to a place in next month’s Open Championship with a brilliant course record 63 in Regional Qualifying at Bruntsfield Links today.

The 19-year-old, who after finishing high school in Oslo is heading to the University of Tennessee, reeled off five birdies in a row from the 13th and on eight-under-par finished four clear of the field.

“I came over just for the chance — I had never been to Edinburgh before, so it was nice to visit,” said a thrilled Johannessen, who last month finished joint 11th in the Lytham Trophy.

He became one of 134 successful players at 13 courses in England, Scotland and Ireland who now go through to the 36-hole Final Qualifying next Tuesday at Gailes Links, Hillside, Sunningdale New and Woburn.

There will be 72 competitors at each of the four venues with just 12 of the 288 earning places in the starting line-up at Royal Liverpool on July 17-20.

Graham Rankin, a teammate of Luke Donald and Paul Casey in Great Britain and Ireland’s 1999 Walker Cup win, also qualified at Bruntsfield with a 69, while fellow Scot Elliot Saltman, who played at Turnberry in 2009 and Royal Lytham two years ago, claimed the last place in a four-man play-off on one-under.

Former Amateur Champion Warren Bladon, who played in The Open when it was last at Hoylake in 2006, returned a five-under-par 67 to finish first at Buckinghamshire but 2004 Volvo PGA Championship winner Scott Drummond, another who played eight years ago, missed out by a stroke at Remedy Oak. His one-over-par 73 left him four behind winner Gary Marks.

Johannessen was not the only amateur to taste victory. A three-under-par 69 from Blackheath’s Freddie Price gave him top spot at The London, South African Nicolaas Arnoldi shot 68 to lead the way at Clitheroe, Burhill’s James Wallis matched the 68 of Icelandic professional Olafur Loftsson at Hankley Common and amateurs Arron Wright and Henry Sheridan-Mills shared first place at Little Aston with 69s.

Former European Tour players Mark Pilkington and James Hepworth took the honours at Mere and Moortown respectively, Welshman Pilkington with a four-under 67 and Yorkshireman Hepworth with a two-under 69.

Nearly 30 countries were represented on the day and Clemens Dvorak did Austria proud with a five-under 67 to win at East Sussex National, while Swede Marcus Norgren needed only a two-over 73 to be joint first with Richard Kilpatrick at The Island near Dublin.

Two of the best scores were a five-under 65 that gave Ian Walley the honours at Luffenham Heath and a six-under 66 from Matthew Webb at Northumberland.

The qualifiers will be joined at Final Qualifying by players who are already exempt into that stage.

Matthew Fitzpatrick came through that a year ago and went on to be leading amateur at Muirfield in joint 44th place, then won the US Amateur title and made the halfway cut at the recent US Open before turning professional.

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