The Open Qualifying Series
Regional Qualifying preview
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Moving a step closer to living The Open dream
Portrush Claret Jug

Three Majors have come and gone and that leaves golf’s original Championship as the last one standing, with Royal Portrush opening its gates to The 148th Open in under four weeks’ time.

Over 100 spots in the starting field have been filled, with the game’s best players set to tee it up on Antrim’s pristine links – where Francesco Molinari will hope to defend the title he so brilliantly claimed at Carnoustie a year ago.

Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland – the three Major winners from this year – will have eyes on the Claret Jug, along with the usual suspects, headed up by 2014 Champion Golfer of the Year and home hero Rory McIlroy.

But there are still plenty of spots up for grabs and that leads us to Regional Qualifying.

What is it?

On Monday June 24, more than 1,000 players will battle it out for a spot at Final Qualifying, where their dream of competing at The 148th Open could be realised.

Across 13 venues, professionals and amateurs with a handicap of scratch or better will play one round of golf in hope of advancing to the next stage.

It's expected that 140 players will progress to July’s Final Qualifying, where four venues across the UK determine the 12 places – three from each venue – in the field for Royal Portrush.

Where is it?

The R&A has selected 13 top-quality venues across the UK and Ireland for Regional Qualifying to test prospective Open contenders.

With The Open returning to Royal Portrush for the first time in 68 years many eyes will be on County Louth, the only Irish course to host RQ this year, and a course synonymous with golfing greats Clarrie Reddan and Philomena Garvey.

County Louth

In the north of England, competitors will tackle Alwoodley, in Leeds, as well as West Lancashire – the county's oldest golf club – Goswick, set on the Northumberland coastline, and Fairhaven, which was first designed by five-time Champion Golfer of the Year James Braid.

In the Midlands, hopefuls will play in the shadow of Kedleston Hall as they take on Kedleston Park in Derbyshire while Northamptonshire County hosts a Regional Qualifying event for the first time since 2002.

The south of England will see five events take place, with another historic clubhouse awaiting competitors at Burhill, in Surrey.

Wildernesse, in Kent, offers a similarly rich history, as does Sandy Lodge in Middlesex. Southern-based golfers will face Frilford Heath, designed by JH Taylor, a former Champion Golfer of the Year who also helped lay out Royal Birkdale, and Minchinhampton in the heart of the Cotswolds, which was also a Regional Qualifying venue in 2018.

And, in Scotland and just a stone’s throw from Carnoustie, is Panmure, the 16th-oldest golf club in the world.

Who to watch out for?

As expected, the number of applications from Ireland has gone through the roof as the nation's clamour to compete at Royal Portrush.

And one of those heading south to County Louth is Gary McNeill, the Club Professional at Royal Portrush.

McNeill, who watched his friend Darren Clarke win The 140th Open at Royal St George’s, could play at Royal Portrush regardless of whether he qualifies.

Darren Clarke

If an odd number of players make the cut, then a marker will be required to play alongside the early starter and the Dunluce Course specialist is excited at the prospect.

“I haven’t played at Louth in quite a while, but we used to play the East of Ireland Championship there in the amateur days, so I do know the venue quite well,” he said.

“I’m going to go there and hopefully give a reasonable account of myself. I’m ready to play if called on.

“I’ve never qualified to play in the tournament itself before, but I have played in qualifying events in the past, without any success.”

Who else?

The field is littered with interesting storylines to keep an eye on, including a former Test cricketer and a world snooker champion.

Shaun Murphy – who has won more than £3m in prize money from snooker – is used to potting balls with a cue rather than hitting them with a club but his natural hand-eye coordination will serve him well at County Louth.

Sean Ervine, a former Zimbabwe cricket international with a healthy first-class batting average of 36.15, is playing at Frilford Heath, along with 2017 Amateur Champion Harry Ellis and Pelle Edberg – who has played in three previous Opens and finished tied 12th in 2007.

Harry Ellis

European Tour players Simon Khan, Richard Finch, Pablo Martin Benavides and Robert Dinwiddie will also compete, along with the marker from Carnoustie last summer in Keir McNicoll.

Eddie Pepperell – who finished in a tie for sixth at Carnoustie last summer – is hoping to make The 148th Open a family affair, with his brother Joe set to play at Northamptonshire County.

While a lot of attention will be on John E Morgan, the Sky Sports presenter and commentator who is set to tee it up at Minchinhampton.

How to follow?

As ever, TheOpen.com will have the action covered and you will be able to follow it all on our dedicated live blog throughout the day.

Regional Qualifying

Follow all the action from 13 venues around the UK and Ireland as players attempt to advance to Final Qualifying

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