More than 1,000 hopefuls battled it out at 13 Regional Qualifying events across the UK on Monday to keep their dream of teeing it up at The 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie alive.
There were hole-in-ones, new course records, birdies galore and tense play-offs as golfers vied for the 140 places available in Final Qualifying for this year’s Open.
Each of the host venues had a confirmed number of spots available and those who filled them are now just 36-holes away from having a chance to compete for the Claret Jug.
Here’s how the drama played out across the country:
Alwoodley Golf Club
Two-time Walker Cup player Stiggy Hodgson set a new course record at Alwoodley Golf Club, on the outskirts of Leeds, to win the Regional Qualifying event by two strokes.
Hodgson signed off on a seven-under 64 that featured nine birdies and two bogeys as he claimed the first of ten available Final Qualifying spots, with Scott Campbell finishing second on five under.
They will be joined by Andrew Wilson, who finished third on four under, as well as Liam O’Neill, Luke Jackson, Joseph Bannan, James Willis, Benjamin Poke and Ben Hutchinson.
The final and most notable qualifier was three-time European Tour winner Pablo Martin, who is one step closer to reaching Carnoustie after shooting a level-par 71.
Workington amateur William Bowe earned his place in Final Qualifying by topping the leaderboard at Berwick-upon-Tweed with a four-under 68.
Fellow amateur Simon Fairburn and Jonathan Porteous also secured their safe passage to the next stage, both finishing two shots back on two under after signing for 70s.
There was plenty of drama behind them, though, as five players tied on one-under went into a play-off to decide who filled the remaining four available Final Qualifying spots.
Matthew Webb, Jack Ainscough and Neil Henderson sealed their spots on the first play-off hole, before Stuart Blair claimed the last place with a birdie on the 18th.
Three players were unable to be separated at the top of the leaderboard at Burhill Golf Club, where there were 13 available spots for Final Qualifying for The Open Championship.
Welsh amateur Gaelen Trew, Sweden’s Henrik Sohlberg and England’s Louis Hirst finished tied first on seven under after all three shot rounds of 65 in Walton-on-Thames.
They were closely followed by Thomas Sloman, who finished two back on five under, while David Clarkson, Guy Woodman, William Dodds, James Johnson and Oscar Floren qualified on three under.
A play-off was then needed to separate eight players tied on two under, with Christopher Blunden, Jack Colegate, Roderick Bastard and Richard Edginton holding their nerve to seal the final places.
No one could catch amateur James Sugrue as he dominated the field at County Louth in Ireland to finish four shots clear at the top of the leaderboard and seal his progress.
The Mallow man registered eight birdies during his bogey-free 64 to take the first of seven available places, with four players tied for second also moving one step closer teeing it up at Carnoustie.
Irish trio Peter Williamson, Shane Franklin, Brendan McCarroll and England amateur Ben Best all finished on four under, with a three-way play-off deciding the final two places.
South Africa’s Robert Braithwaite advanced with a par on the first play-off hole, before Swede Andreas Tancred grabbed the final spot on the fourth sudden death hole.
Birdies proved tough to come by at Fairhaven as no player managed to shoot under par, with the top five finishing tied on level par to secure their Final Qualifying berth.
English quartet Mark Young, Benjamin Firth, Adam Stone and James Robinson, as well as Welshman Lee Rooke, claimed the first five of the 12 available spots in the next qualifying stage.
Phillip Kelly’s one-over 73 ensured he joined them in Final Qualifying, along with Ashton Turner, Rhys Nevin and Mark Ashworth, who finished tied seventh on two over.
Once again, a play-off was required between four players to decide the final three places, with James Murphy, James Newton and Callan Barrow making it through at Michael Dewsbury’s expense.
Stowmarket professional Sam Forgan delivered a bogey-free 64 at Frilford Heath to finish four shots clear of the rest of the pack as he booked his place in Final Qualifying.
He was joined by runner-up Adam Wootton, who signed for a four-under 68, while amateur Sean Mullan and Frilford Heath pro Robert Harrhy also progressed on two under.
“The course was great, the greens were perfect and I was lucky with my tee time in that there was still a little bit of moisture in the ground so it was playing easier,” said Harrhy.
The remaining places of the 13 available were taken by Aaron Siddell, Alasdair Hay, Timonthy Shin, Jin Pyo Ahn, Tom Shadbolt, Ryan Cahill, Craig Farrelly, Simon McGreal and Thomas Plumb.
Four Ashes pro Daanyal Spalding secured his place in Final Qualifying for a second time after shooting a three-under 67 to win the Regional Qualifying event at Kedleston Park.
“I’m really happy [to make it through to Final Qualifying],” said Spalding. “Obviously, the weather was great and that was a massive help, while the course was in fantastic condition.
“It was a bit different as it was very bouncy and there were a lot of different yardages, landing stuff short if I wasn’t in the fairway. I got off to a nice start and got it to four-under, but unfortunately bogeyed the 17th.”
Jack Lynch, Paul Bradshaw and Christopher Evans also qualified on two under, while Richard Mansell, Craig Young, Andrew Willey, Cameron Long, Henry Sheridan-Mills, Thomas Curtis and James Walker made it through on one over.
Saunton amateur Jake Burnage triumphed in the Regional Qualifier at Minchinhampton, shooting a seven-under 65 to finish one clear at the top of the leaderboard.
Haider Hussain, from The Kendleshire, was close behind on six under, with Brickhampton Court duo Ross Langdon and Daniel Hendry also progressing to Final Qualifying on five under.
They were joined by Tom Law, Matt Mumford and Michael Downey, before a seven-way play-off decided the last six qualifiers as Louis Boston, Ben Amor, Oliver Farrell, Harry Konig, Delon Hau and Owen Edwards made it through.
Mark Sandry was among those to miss out as he attempted to follow in the footsteps of his father and caddy Barry, after he played in The Open Championship at Carnoustie in 1975 when Tom Watson became Champion Golfer of the Year.
Amateur Freddie MacArthur sailed through to Final Qualifying as he claimed the first of ten available spots at Northamptonshire County with a three-under 67.
Further places were filled by Lutterworth amateur Chris Abbott and Glen Gorse pro Ashley Mason, who both finished on two under ahead of a four-way tie for fourth.
Sam Broadhurst, the son of former European Tour pro Paul Broadhurst, was among that group on one over par, along with Jack Yule, Gary Boyd and James Mack.
The final three players to advance to Final Qualifying were Daniel Scourfield, Patrick Ruff and amateur Lee Woodcock, with their two-over 72s proving enough to squeeze through.
Meanwhile, Andrew Hurley, of Letchworth, failed to reach Final Qualifying despite making a hole-in-one on the third at Northamptonshire County, finishing the day on six over.
Craig Lawrie, son of former Champion Golfer of the Year Paul Lawrie, was among the qualifiers at Panmure as he finished in a tie for second with a two-under 68.
Jack Davidson and Paul McKechnie also qualified on the two-under mark, but it was Scotland’s Gavin Hay who topped the leaderboard at the course located just two miles from Carnoustie with a 67.
The remaining places were filled by Kris Nicol, who shot a one-under 69, level-par trio Rick Hessing, Kyle Underwood and Fraser Moore, and Italian pro Patrick Actis Alesina.
Scottish PGA Champion Chris Kelly was among the notable players not to progress, while Chris Doak had to settle for the consolation of an ace on Panmure’s fifth hole.
A seven-way play-off was required to decide the last Final Qualifying spot at Sandy Lodge, after Jamie Moul had earlier posted a four-under 66 to finish top of the leaderboard.
Roehampton pro Billy Hemstock also advanced to the 36-hole shootout with a two-under 68, while Ben Smith and Harry Casey eased through in tied third with a pair of 69s.
Level par was enough for Adam Hedges, Sean Whiffin and Glen Portelli to qualify, with Jamie Abbott, Charlie Rudge, James Allan, Tomasz Anderson and Ville Nykӓnen joining them on one-over.
Grims Dyke pro Matt Cousens then prevailed in a tense play-off between the seven players tied on two-over to claim the last Final Qualifying place.
Not even a bogey on the final hole could ruin Joshua McMahon’s day as the Wallasey amateur romped to victory at the Regional Qualifier at West Lancashire.
His six-under 66 saw him finish four shots clear of the rest of the field, with Levi Desmond the next best player on two-under as both players progressed comfortably to Final Qualifying.
They were joined by Tom Metcalfe and John Carroll, who both posted one-under 71s, while Liam Hancock, Michael Fossto, Jack Brook, Daniel Croft and Paul Kinnear also advanced on level par.
Eight players were left competing for the final two places, with Luke Kelly and Jack Suttie succeeding in the play-off. Tommy Fleetwood’s caddy and West Lancashire member Ian Finnis was on the bag for amateur Joseph Walsh, but he finished off the pace on six over.
A remarkable play-off saw nine players compete for seven remaining spots at Wildernesse, with former BMW PGA Championship winner Simon Khan among those to advance.
He progressed to Final Qualifying along with Anthony Tarchetti, Jason Partridge, Warren Bennett, Henry Smart, Gareth Blease and Harvey Byers from the shootout.
The event was won by Kings Hill amateur Tom Sherreard, who posted a five-under 67 to finish one clear of Paul Nessling, Marcus Sewell and Steven Tiley.
Ryan Fitzgerald, Liam Burns and David Boote also ensured they will have the chance to tee it up at Carnoustie, after finishing tied fifth on three under.