Retief Goosen secured his place in The 147th Open at Carnoustie after progressing through Final Qualifying at Prince’s in Kent.
The two-time US Open champion was among 12 qualifiers from a field of 288 players who competed for a place in golf’s original championship at four venues throughout the UK: The Renaissance Club in Scotland, St Annes Old Links, Notts (Hollinwell) and Prince’s.
With 20mph winds making conditions extremely tricky on the Kent coast and watched by a sizeable gallery alongside Kent’s Alfie Plant, the leading amateur at Royal Birkdale last year who missed out this time, Goosen birdied the par-five seventh, his 16th, and then holed a putt from 30 feet for a two at the short eighth.
The 49-year-old South African thought he had missed out, however, when his chip at the ninth lipped out and he took two putts for a bogey. At one under par after rounds of 71 and 72, Goosen was one of only three players to finish under par at Prince’s and confirmed his place in the field for The Open for the first time since 2015.
“I am glad it played tough today as I play better when it is difficult. I drove the ball well and my long putting in the wind was good. This will be my last Open as a regular tour player — next year I’ll be with the seniors — but I’m looking forward to it. Carnoustie is always tough but I’m sure it will be in great condition. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be as windy as today.”
Tom Lewis led the way on four under par with scores of 72 and 68 to earn a first Open appearance since winning the Silver Medal as the leading amateur at neighbouring Royal St George’s in 2011.
After a bogey at the 10th hole in his second round, Lewis knew he needed to score well coming home and posted four birdies in the last eight holes. “I have been thinking about The Open for the last seven years,” Lewis said. “I’m going to go to Carnoustie and enjoy it — just like I did in 2011.”
The conditions were no problem for Iceland’s Haraldur Magnus, who grew up playing in the wind at home in Reykjavik. Magnus, 27, who plays on the Nordic Golf League circuit, was attempting to qualify for The Open for the first time and went through with scores of 72 and 70.
Sam Locke, the 19-year-old Scottish Amateur champion, produced a polished performance to win the first Final Qualifying event to be held at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian. Helped by holing from a greenside bunker for an eagle-two at the fifth - his 14th - in the second round, the Stonehaven man finished on seven under after rounds of 69 and 66.
Locke is coached by his dad Andrew, a PGA professional, but is also mentored by Paul Lawrie, who won The Open in 1999 at Carnoustie."I’ve always wanted to play in The Open so, to qualify for it at my first attempt, I’m obviously delighted,” Locke said.
“I can’t wait for Carnoustie. I played there for the first time about a month ago in an R&A event for patrons – and I shot level par. I’d take that again!"Grant Forrest, a 25-year-old former Walker Cup player from North Berwick, thrilled the local fans as he qualified in second spot on six under, with 33-year-old Harrogate-based Thomas Curtis claiming the third and last place on five under.
It will be Forrest's second Open appearance, having still been an amateur when he played at Muirfield in 2013. Until now, Curtis's biggest achievement had been winning a par-3 tournament for $20,000 while on his honeymoon in Bermuda in 2015.
Three local Lancashire lads made it to Carnoustie at St Annes Old Links. James Robinson, who lives in St Annes, led the way on 12-under-par and Jack Senior from Morecambe tied with the now Yorkshire-based Marcus Armitage two strokes behind. Robinson, who plays out of Southport and Ainsdale, added a best of the afternoon 65 to his opening 67.
Starting at the 10th in the second round, he finished the back nine birdie-birdie-eagle, hitting a four-iron to 12 inches at 18, and went on to safely book a place in The Open for the first time.
"It feels amazing to finally make it to The Open,” Robinson said. “It's been a big change in the last 12 months starting my PGA qualification, so I've barely picked up a golf club for nine months, just done a little bit of practice. It's back to work tomorrow coaching at Clark’s Golf Centre.”
Senior, the Challenge Tour player from the Carus Green club near Kendal, opened with a 68 and was two strokes better in the afternoon. Rossendale-born Armitage, who moved to Leeds with his family in his teens and played out of Howley Hall, led after a first round 65 added a 69 in the afternoon.
Ashton Turner, the 22-year-old former English amateur international from Kenwick Park in Lincolnshire, was four shots off the pace after a level-par opening round of 72 at Notts (Hollinwell) but then stormed through the field with a six-under-par 66 that included three birdies and an eagle in his last five holes. He missed the green on the last but calmly got up-and-down to consolidate his place in what will be his first appearance in a Major.
“It’s all a bit surreal at the moment and I think it will probably take a bit of time to sink in,” Turner said. "I played at Carnoustie in the Amateur Championship back in 2015. It wasn’t my friend then but hopefully I’ll get a few better memories this time.”
Oliver Wilson has not played in The Open since 2010 but he can now look forward to his return after making the most of a good bit of fortune at the start of his second round. After an opening 72, Wilson lost his ball in a bush off the tee at his first hole of the afternoon but hit his next to 25 feet and holed the putt for a par.
The 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links champion finished with a 69 and finish three shots behind Turner, while 29-year-old Rhys Enoch, who won this year’s Cape Town Open on the Sunshine Tour, finished one stroke further back in third place. “I played really well but it was so bouncy that it was very difficult to get it close,” Wilson said. "My game is in a better position than it’s been for five or six years and this builds the confidence a bit more. This is another little step in the right direction.”