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The Open Qualifying Series

Final Qualifying


Determined Dodd-Berry follows in Jordan's footsteps

Matthew Dodd-Berry poses with his family during Final Qualifying for The Open at West Lancashire

A year on from one Royal Liverpool member navigating West Lancashire, history repeated itself at Final Qualifying.

As Matthew Jordan secured a dream Open appearance at his home club, Royal Liverpool, in 2023, Matthew Dodd-Berry watched on with envy and returned this year determined to avoid the same feeling.

Three bogeys in his first four holes threatened to push Dodd-Berry out of contention but the 20-year-old showed tremendous character in trying conditions, with nine birdies, one eagle and just one further dropped shot enough to secure a place at Royal Troon.

Dodd-Berry was joined on six-under-par by Sam Horsfield, while Daniel Brown (-5) and Masahiro Kawamura (-5) completed the qualifying quartet.

“It’s the greatest moment, it’s everything I’ve worked towards,” said Dodd-Berry.

Matthew Dodd-Berry points to the scoreboard after reaching The 152nd Open

“I did it a year late – last year would have been great at my home course but I’m really excited to go to Troon.

“I got off to a really rough start and at that point my caddy said ‘just hang in there, you don’t know what’s going to happen.’ The weather was terrible so my mentality was just a case of we’ll see what happens.

“I got it back to level and kicked on from there. I didn’t look at the scoreboard throughout the day, so I had no idea where I stood.

“I played really good golf on the last nine, hung in there, stayed tough and got it done.”

Dodd-Berry, who is one of the latest young stars to cross the pond via the American college system, came close to securing an Open place when reaching the quarter-finals of The Amateur Championship last month.

He was delighted to get over the line this time and repay his dad, Kenny, for all his support.

“My dad has helped me a lot: how he’s taught me to grow up and play the game of golf,” added Dodd-Berry.

“He can’t teach me the game but he can teach me mentally and he’s helped me get to the stage where I’m at.

“I can’t wait, I’m ecstatic and can’t wait to get over there.”

Joining Dodd-Berry in playing in his first major will be Romanby member Brown.

Daniel Brown reacts on the 18th green during Final Qualifying

The 29-year-old, who claimed his first win on the DP World Tour last year, believes FQ’s 36-hole test of endurance was just what he needed after a frustrating few months.

“I was struggling with my knee and took seven weeks off and I haven’t really got going since,” he explained.

“I was playing well before that. My first event back was Belgium (Soudal Open) where I missed the cut by one.

“There’s no player in the world who doesn’t go through a spell where they’re struggling.

“I haven’t been playing badly, I've just been impatient, and I had to be patient here.”

Brown says he will have to wait a few days before booking his accommodation, as he first flies to Germany for this weekend’s BMW Open.

Until then, he will savour the putt which ensured his safe passage to Troon: a nerveless 20-footer on the final hole which ultimately ensured he avoided a play-off with Ben Schmidt, with Sergio Garcia a shot further back on three-under-par.

“It was quite a nice way to finish,” he said. “I feel like I got rewarded for the way I played this afternoon.

“A lot of putts shaved the hole and it wasn’t getting frustrating, but I feel like I played well enough to deserve that last one.

“There were a lot of good players in and around the top four, so I kind of knew I had to shoot a decent number, it wasn’t going to be a given, you had to go out and play well and thankfully I did.”

Sam Horsfield was the last of the four qualifiers out on course but held his nerve to book a third Open appearance.

After undergoing hip surgery last year, Horsfield feels he is edging closer to his best form and a pair of 69s at a west and windy West Lancs gave him further cause for encouragement.

Sam Horsfield smiles at Final Qualifying

“This will be my first major in a couple of years and The Open is my favourite one I’ve ever played,” he said.

“The feeling of hearing my name called for the first time at The Open was the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced, so I’m really looking forward to getting back and continuing with this good golf.

“I had zero expectations, I literally didn’t know what to expect coming here.

“I haven’t had my best year, I’ve been struggling a little bit, played nicely last week and saw some really good signs in my game, so to come out here in really tough conditions and play really well and keep the ball under control is really pleasing.”

Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura completed the qualifiers in the northwest after bouncing back from a triple-bogey on the 1st to seal his second Open appearance, having finished tied-39th on debut at Carnoustie in 2018.

Masahiro Kawamura of Japan reacts on the 18th green during Final Qualifying

The 31-year-old fought his way back to two-under at the halfway mark and kicked on after lunch, reaching seven-under at one stage. In the end, a second-round 69 proved enough to see him through.

“It’s been amazing," he said. "It was very windy and very tough but I’m very happy and very tired.

“I looked at the leaderboard just to check in. I’m not sure the conditions got any easier as the day went on.”

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