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The 151st Open

Kyle Barker


'Qualifying for The Open is the best thing I've ever done'

Kyle Barker celebrates qualifying for The 151st Open

Kyle Barker had only been to the UK once before Final Qualifying for The 151st Open but he ensured it was another memorable trip by extending his stay through to the main event.

The South African’s only previous trip to these shores came towards the end of last year when he proposed to his wife, who has family in Sherborne.

But a lack of links experience didn’t stop Barker over 36 holes at West Lancashire as he joined compatriots Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel, who came through at Royal Cinque Ports, in teeing up at Royal Liverpool.

Barker, 25, finished level with Matthew Jordan after 36 absorbing holes but his impressions of Hoylake could not be more different from Jordan, who has been a member since the age of seven.

Kyle Barker celebrates qualifying for The 151st Open

“I’ve never seen Royal Liverpool in my life, so I’m looking forward to playing a nice couple of practice rounds,” said Barker.

“With the history behind it, I think The Open the biggest golf tournament in the history of golf. I’m really, really looking forward to having a great experience and hopefully keeping the good golf up.”

The Johannesburg native may not be overly familiar with British conditions but he is more accustomed than his 18-year-old caddy, Ryan Fletcher, whose visit to Final Qualifying marked his first-ever trip outside of South Africa.

They make a formidable pairing, with two wins and two second-place finishes from their first four tournaments together, and that excellent form led to a change of travel plans for Barker.

Kyle Barker celebrates qualifying for The 151st Open

Not expecting to fill one of the five qualifying places on offer, he sorted his return flight to South Africa for 7 July but has never taken such delight in cancelling a booking as he looks to make more special memories at Royal Liverpool.

“My game is on the up at the moment, it’s on the rise,” said Barker. “All the hard work I’m putting in off the golf course, in the gym, on the range, all the maintenance work I’m doing with my coach Neil Cheetham, and Gavin Groves my trainer.

“I’m just so pleased, and I hope to keep the good golf going. To know I’m playing The Open is just incredible.

“My heart was sitting in my throat for those last nine holes [at West Lancashire]. I haven’t played 36 holes in about ten years but I’m extremely proud of how I hung in and kept the ball rolling.

“I normally like to look at scoreboards, but I didn’t see any out there. I saw one on hole 16 and saw my name and I knew I had to make one birdie coming in to make it. Luckily on 17, I hit an 8-iron to three feet and then made birdie.

“Qualifying for The Open is 100 per cent the best thing I’ve ever achieved in my life.”

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