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The Open Qualifying Series

Fairmont St Andrews Final Qualifying

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Carey, Dinwiddie, van Meijel and Wrigley secure spots

Qualifiers for The Open at Fairmont

On a windswept, wet Final Qualifying day at Fairmont St Andrews, four golfers from different backgrounds achieved a dream in qualifying for The 150th Open just three miles away at the Old Course.

David Carey, Robert Dinwiddie, Lars van Meijel and Alex Wrigley all secured their spots in The Open at Fairmont, and all through very different routes on a dramatic final day.

Wrigley, who was a reserve from Regional Qualifying, struck the final putt of regulation play to force a play-off and had the moment of holing this putt to make it into The Open.

The 32-year-old Hartlepool native is married to Swedish LET star Johanna Gustavsson, who is herself exempt for the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield, meaning that husband and wife will both be playing in Opens this summer.

“I remember watching the 2000 Open,” Wrigley said. “I remember watching David Duval win in 2001, and then I went to The Open at Royal St George’s (in 2003) when Ben Curtis won and then when Todd Hamilton won the following year.

“It’s so surreal to be there myself. Tiger (Woods) is in the field and a lot of people I look up to. It’s going to be so much fun to share it with my family and all my friends. Those tickets will be getting used quite a lot I think.

“Like everybody, when I practise I always have putts to win The Open. I was trying to keep my mind quiet because there was a lot of emotion coming up, a lot of memories of The Open. I didn’t know where I was and I just tried to clear my mind.”

“I rang Johanna and she said ‘what’s happened?’, and I just said ‘you’re not the only person playing in The Open this year!'”

“I rang Johanna and she said ‘what’s happened?’, and I just said ‘you’re not the only person playing in The Open this year!'” Alex Wrigley

The entire day at Fairmont was wet, windy and difficult, with scoring proving very high despite the assemblance of a high-quality field.

One of the star attractions was the in-form PGA Tour star Aaron Rai, who was in the first group off the 10th tee, and battled to a good first round of 72, level par, in the morning.

Ireland’s David Carey put together a superb 68 and Lars van Meijel went one better with a 67, but no other scores were posted under 70 in round one. Calum Scott signed for a 70, while five other players including two-time Open appearance maker Robert Dinwiddie recorded 71s.

In the afternoon, however, Carey proved the class of the field, pulling away and at times seemingly playing a different golf course to his fellow competitors.

“It was a long day, especially with the rain and wind there this afternoon”, Carey said. “I was just trying to stay patient and do the simple things. I’ve been playing well the last few weeks. I’ve had a lot of solid scores without anything amazing, so I felt like I had been close to a really good week."

A stunning 69 for Carey in the second round, when he faced some remarkably unsavoury conditions that resembled a harsh winter rather than a late July afternoon, left him at seven-under-par.

The Irishman, who shot a 57 on the Alps Tour in late 2019, compiled his three-under afternoon round with an eagle on his back nine and capped it all off in some style, holing this remarkable 50-footer to put the cherry on top and secure his place in The Open.

It was a wonderful belated birthday present for Carey, who turned 26 on Saturday, and is looking forward to playing the Old Course for the first time.

“I’m very big on my golf history. I have been saying to everybody for the last three months that I wanted to play in The 150th Open at St Andrews so this is special. I went to the Old Course for the first time yesterday and walked around the first, second, 17th and 18th. I just had a look around the place and that was maybe the extra inspiration for me."

Three other spots were up for grabs, and they could have gone many different ways. Carey’s score looked strong, but was comparable to Lars van Meijel who was bogey-free through his first 28 holes and six-under-par.

Van Meijel appeared in control of one of the remaining spots, but a significant back nine stumble returned him to two-under-par. Robert Dinwiddie, meanwhile, went about his business quietly and came in at three-under, and it soon became clear that total would guarantee the 39-year-old Englishman a spot in The Open.

“The weather was really testing out there today,” Dinwiddie said. “When you have got 36 holes to play you really have to try to keep your energy levels up.

“This is my second Open at St Andrews and it’s very special. To play in any Open at St Andrews is special but for The 150th that is extremely special.

“For me it’s been a few years since I have played in an event like this and it’s really nice to have another go at it."

The final two spots would come down to three players. Rai, who commanded a significant crowd, had a storming front nine, but two closing bogeys at the end of his round left him at two-under in the clubhouse early, which van Meijel eventually tied after his stumbling finish.

While a number of others threatened to reach two under as well, including Johnny Tynan, Espen Koftsad, George Ash and Niklas Lemke, it was Wrigley in the final group of the day who forced a play-off, after eagling his 16th hole, the seventh, with a chip-in, and holing a clutch five-foot putt on his final hole.

The rain continued to tumble as the three-way play-off for two spots ensued. Rai hit his tee shot in the hazard, and despite a remarkable recovery shot from a plugged lie, he could not in the end salvage par, leaving van Meijel a simple two-putt and Wrigley with a good up-and-down to seal their Open places.

Van Meijel of the Netherlands will make The 150th Open his first ever major, and was delighted to have got over the line in the end.

“It feels amazing, it’s hard to believe,” van Meijel said. “We went there on Sunday when we got here. St Andrews with the grandstands - it’s a magical place. I’m honoured I can play there in two weeks’ time.”

“It’s the first time I have played a qualifier so I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a grind out there, 36 holes is really long. I just tried to play one shot at a time and battle it out to the 37th hole.

“I knew I was in a good spot. I kind of slacked a bit at the end so I thought maybe it’s not enough. And then it looked like it was going to be, then Alex made an eagle to make it a play-off. I redeemed myself in the play-off so I’m happy.

“I have won on the Challenge Tour and done some good things. I have played on the main Tour the last two years and struggled a bit so it just feels good to play in my first major. It's a big step."

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