Final Qualifiers make their mark
Six out of the 15 golfers who came through Final Qualifying have reached the last two rounds of The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.
That list is headed by English Ryder Cup star, Ian Poulter, whose injury problems last year meant he had to card rounds of 70 and 68 at Woburn to get into the championship but who now goes into the third round in the second last group with America’s Brooks Koepka at 3.45pm on Saturday.
Poulter is not the only Final Qualifier to make it into today’s feature groups because Royal Cinque Ports qualifier, Austin Connelly, a Canadian and friend of leader, Jordan Spieth, is in the third last group out on the course at 3.35pm together with Scotland’s Ritchie Ramsay.
The six still standing comprise two players from Final Qualifying at Woburn, two from Cinque Ports and two from Hollinwell (Notts).
First of the six out this morning at 10.40am was Englishman, Toby Tree, a qualifier at Woburn, and he was followed in the next group by compatriot, Joe Dean, a former English Amateur champion, who finished tied for first place at Notts.
At just after noon, Englishman Matt Southgate, the leading qualifier at Royal Cinque Ports for the last two years in a row, teed off alongside Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger while at 1.30pm went Laurie Canter, who came through a play-off at Notts, plays with Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.
Incredibly, Southgate has won his Final Qualifying event in three out of the last four years, at Sunningdale in 2014 and Royal Cinque Ports for the last two years. 12 months ago, he returned from surgery for testicular cancer to post rounds of 71, 71, 72 and 69 to finish tied-12th at Royal Troon.