Sam Bairstow will be hoping to extend a proud record at the Old Course in St Andrews after came through Final Qualifying at St Annes Old Links for the second year in succession to book his place at The 150th Open.
Bairstow was one of two amateurs, together with Barclay Brown at Hollinwell, to come through Final Qualifying on Tuesday, the left-hander topping the leaderboard at St Annes alongside Marcus Armitage as Matthew Jordan and John Parry also qualified on England’s north-west coast.
As a result, Bairstow will now return to a venue he knows well following a trio of appearances in the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy.
“I’ve played the Links Trophy three times at the Old Course. I don’t want to jinx it but I’ve never shot over par there,” he said.
“On the other (St Andrews Links Trust) courses I have, so I’m glad The Open’s not on the Jubilee Course! I like the Old Course, it’s a great town and it’s going to be a great week."
Bairstow’s success in Final Qualifying – for the second year running - came just 10 days after he had lost the final of The Amateur Championship to South Africa’s Aldrich Potgieter at nearby Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Victory in the final of The Amateur would have secured Bairstow a spot in The 150th Open as well as the 2023 Masters and U.S. Open. However, he has now ensured he will not miss out on the landmark Championship at St Andrews.
“I’m over the moon,” Bairstow added. “The Open was probably the one that hurt most missing out on, so to qualify is very special.
“It felt like there were a lot of people at Royal St George’s so I can’t imagine what 290,000 is going to fell like. I’m sure that first tee will be a very special moment on the Thursday.
“My first memory of The Open was probably Rory (McIlroy winning) at Hoylake in 2014. I think that’s the first one I went to – I went with my grandma. So I’ll have to see if I can get her a ticket back up to St Andrews!”
“The Open was probably the one that hurt most missing out on, so to qualify is very special.” Sam Bairstow
Armitage also qualified from St Annes for a second time, having previously done so in 2018, and is bracing himself for an expensive week at the home of golf.
“Some money is going to get spent in that merchandise tent,” he said with a smile. “I’m a bit of a merchandise tent geek and I think there’s going to be a few thousand quid going there. I’m excited.
“It was just pure emotion coming down the last. I was rattling, I got it over the line and I haven’t been in that position for a while. So to pull it off under those circumstances and show that I’ve still got it – I was really happy.
“I don’t really play well around St Andrews. But I will put that aside because The Open is The Open wherever it is and at St Andrews, well Tiger (Woods) talks about it, Jack (Nicklaus) talks about it, so to finally go and experience that. It will be unbelievable. And you never know, I might not normally like it, but I might get a win!
“It’s my birthday every year at The Open (15th July) so that’s the best birthday present I could have – pitching up there.”
Jordan survived a nervy finish to earn his major championship debut.
The Royal Liverpool member, who won the St Andrews Links Trophy in 2017, bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to drop back to six-under-par, but a brilliant birdie on the final hole saw him avoid a play-off as he finished one stroke behind Bairstow and Armitage in solo third.
“It feels brilliant – it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time now, especially this year. So to finally get it done is great, and obviously The 150th Open at St Andrews is the cherry on top!
“I love the place. When I won the Links Trophy, when I’ve played in the Dunhill there, I had two good rounds. For whatever reason I just really enjoy playing the course. So it’s going to be on another level with all the spectator stands and everything else that goes on. I’m absolutely chuffed.”
Jordan’s grandfather is a member of The R&A who once won a silver medal in badminton in the Commonwealth Games.
“I don’t know if he will be able to get up there but I phoned him up before and he was absolutely over the moon. He could hardly speak,” added Jordan.
“I will try and get him up there but for an 88-year-old a five-hour drive is quite long.”
The final qualifier from St Annes was Parry, who edged out Daniel Kay in a play-off after both men had finished on six-under-par.
Parry and Kay each birdied the first play-off hole, the former showing his class with a superb pitch over a greenside bunker to two feet.
A par at the signature ninth hole then proved enough for Parry as Kay found trouble to the right of the green and made a double-bogey five.
To have my first Open at St Andrews is going to be really special,” said Parry, who twice qualified for the U.S Open in 2013 and 2015.
“It’s every British golfer’s dream – for us that’s the pinnacle of golf. And then for it to be at St Andrews in the 150th year just makes it a little bit more special."
Parry finished an impressive 28th on his U.S. Open debut and added: “More than anything it’s about handling the pressure. It’s still golf but everyone ramps it up a bit more being a major.
“So I know I can handle playing under a bigger test. I know my game can handle that and that gives me a bit of confidence.”