Whether following in the footsteps of family or friends, the quartet of Final Qualifying success stories from Hollinwell each had their own reasons to be delighted with their progress to The 150th Open.
On a day that saw scoring prove tricky on a typically challenging course, amateur Barclay Brown led the way with a score of four-under through his 36 holes, joined in the red only by Oliver Farr (-1) and Richard Mansell (-1).
A level-par score, sealed with a fantastic recovery par on the last, proved enough for Marco Penge to join them without the need for a play-off and ensure three of the four qualifiers now have a maiden Open to look forward to, Mansell having qualified from Hollinwell last year.
Brown is among those relishing sampling his first taste of golf’s original Championship after a day that saw him lead the way almost throughout, having set off at 6.50am as part of the third group.
An opening round of 68 made Brown the only player to break 70 on the day and his clubhouse lead was never truly threatened after a level-par 72 second time around, continuing a memorable spell for Hallamshire Golf Club after Matt Fitzpatrick’s U.S. Open success a fortnight ago.
Brown, who played with Fitzpatrick’s brother Alex in the 2021 Walker Cup, hopes to join the major winner for some practice rounds at St Andrews as he returns to a course he has played just once before.
“I played there with my parents when I was 10 or 11, but not since,” he said.
“I’m just really excited, I can’t wait. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years.
“Matt was unbelievable [at the U.S. Open] and it was incredible to watch him. He’s texted me to say congratulations, which is really nice of him, and hopefully I can play with him early in the week at St Andrews.
“I was fortunate to get off to a good start here. I was never under too much pressure and played really nicely all day.
“My putting bailed me out a couple of times when I got into trouble. I was fairly on edge when I started my second round but a couple of early birdies calmed me down, then I played myself into it.
“It did get a little bit tight at one stage but fortunately I managed to hold on.”
Farr’s qualification, meanwhile, continues a proud family association with both The Open and St Andrews.
His father, Graham, made his Open debut at the home of golf in 1990 and Oliver will now follow suit after backing up his one-under 71 with a 72 to share second – with his father on the bag throughout.
“I was there in 1990 but I was only two, so I can’t remember any of it,” said Farr.
“But there are all sorts of memories of The Open growing up, coming back from school and putting it straight on the telly. It’s still the highlight of the majors for me.
“Dad will be up there for the week, so I can’t wait – he played in two Opens so I’ve still got to try and catch him up!
On his Hollinwell rounds, Farr added: “I got off to a great start, birdieing one and three, but I knew it was going to be a really tough day.
“I had a bit of a wobble through nine holes in the second round but made three really good birdies on the back nine to settle myself down.
“The 16th green was the first time I saw the scoreboard and a birdie on 17 was a must as the 18th was the toughest hole out there. I played a really good bunker shot to make that and though I struggled a bit on 18, I had the cushion to play with.”
Farr was joined by Mansell on one-under, the 27-year-old replicating last year’s Hollinwell success after backing up his one-over opening round with a two-under 70 second time around.
“It was a different golf course to last year, it was brutal,” Mansell said.
“I just had to grind all day. It was so hard to get close to pins and we just had to stay strong mentally.
“I made the best bogey of my life at 16, managed to birdie 17 and had my best swing of the day on the 18th. I wasn’t at my best today but I’m thankful it was good enough and I’m really looking forward to St Andrews.”
Mansell’s appetite is further whetted by the prospect of being in the field with his childhood hero.
“I thought the U.S. Open was going to be my first event with Tiger [Woods] in the field so I was gutted when he pulled out,” he said.
“I’m hoping he’ll be there. To play an event with the greatest of all time has always been a dream, so that adds another dimension to it.
“It’s my third major and it has been an unbelievable 18 months. To play an Open at St Andrews is what you dream of as a kid.”
Penge was the last to book his ticket to St Andrews and did so in dramatic style. He had a two-shot cushion on the 17th tee but after a bogey there, his tee shot on the 18th found rough to the right.
A play-off looked on the cards, with Oliver Farrell and Thomas Thurloway waiting in the clubhouse on +1, but Penge recovered with the aid of a superb chip to tap in from a couple of feet and continue his fine recent form.
“My chipping used to be the weakest part of my game, but I’ve worked really hard on it with my coach,” he said.
“It’s massive relief. Playing an Open in St Andrews is always the one I’ve wanted to do and the fairway on the first is about 100 yards wide, so I should be alright on the first tee!
“I had a knee operation in October and missed about seven months, but since returning results have just kept coming.
“I wasn’t quite on it today but I’ve done the job and it’s just an awesome feeling, my first Open.
“Hopefully there’ll be more to come but whatever happens now, I can say I’ve played in a major.”