Golf: Last chance for Lytham hopefuls

Given the choice of playing in the final rounds of the qualifying competition for the Open Championship or walking a tightrope over Niagara in a gale, there are those who would prefer to take their chances with the Falls.

There is only one thing worse than playing in the qualifying and that's failing. The failure rate is high. Yesterday 480 players underwent a nerve-racking examination over four courses. Only 48 - 12 from each course - will not be checking out of their B and B at the conclusion of the second round tonight.

Some, in fact, are already resigned to watching the 125th Open on television. Jarmo Sandelin, the promising young Swede, was scheduled to play in the qualifying at Formby. Sandelin, who won the Madeira Island Open this year and was fourth in the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth, failed to put in an appearance yesterday and was disqualified.

The R and A has grown accustomed to a lack of commitment from a handful of Americans but not from a European who is lying 26th in the Volvo rankings. Another early casualty was Jamie Spence who shot 78 and promptly retired. When the championship starts here on Thursday there will be 156 players in the field, 108 of whom were exempt.

They are the lucky ones. The Scotsman Gordon Law, 12 months after the worst experience of his life, is determined to make no mistakes this time. He would have comfortably qualified for the Open at St Andrews last year but put his name on the wrong scorecard and was disqualified. Last Monday Law shot a course record 64 at Glenbervie in regional qualifying and yesterday at Formby he had a 69. A similar effort today will guarantee Law a place in the Open and a minimum reward of pounds 4,000.

Over at Southport and Ainsdale, another Scot, Ross Drummond, shot a nine- under-par 63. Drummond, a journeyman pro who rarely bothers the scorers, has had two top-five finishes on the European Tour this season and it may not be unconnected to the fact that a reporter on a national newspaper is carrying his bag with a view to writing a book.

What was extraordinary about Drummond's round yesterday was that he produced it on a course he had never set eyes on before. His score was a stroke outside the course record set by Chris Moody in final qualifying for the Open at Royal Birkdale in 1991.

At St Annes Old Links, a course record of 65 was set by Richard Boxall and the 23-year-old Austrian Rudi Sailer Jnr. Boxall, who broke a leg during the third round of the Open five years ago, arrived at the Lancashire links having shot 85 in the final round of the Scottish Open at Carnoustie. Sailer, from Kitz- buhel, won the Austrian amateur championship five times before turning professional two years ago. This season he has won less than pounds 2,000 on the Challenge Tour.

One of the leaders at Fairhaven, which has six par-fives and a par of 74, was Ricky Willison. The Ealing golfer was seventh in the Irish Open at Druids Glen two weeks ago and has won enough money to secure his card for next season. "I want to experience the dryness of the mouth and dodgy stomach that champions get," Willison said. "I felt it in Ireland and it was wonderful." In County Wicklow his wife caddied for him. Here he has Johnny Miller, not the former Open champion but a clubmate.

At the beginning of the year, the R and A were not sure if Jack Nicklaus was going to play in the Open. Now they may have not only the Golden Bear but one of his cubs. Gary Nicklaus, attempting to qualify for the fifth time, had a 68 at St Annes Old Links. "Of course it would be great to play in the same field as dad," the 27-year-old Nicklaus said. "If I qualify it will be about time because I've been a pro for five years. I don't feel the pressure because of who I am. I just get on with it."

Gordon Sherry is finding it increasingly difficult to get on with it. This time last year the boy from Kilmarnock was having the time of his life. As an amateur he was fourth in the Scottish Open and also had a ball in the Open at St Andrews. Injury prevented him from playing at Carnoustie last week, and although he played at Formby yesterday he was struggling. Sherry shot a one-over-par 73 and retired to a physiotherapist's couch. "My back is bad," Sherry said. "I had spasms in my neck a few weeks ago and although my neck is better it has spread to my back. I suppose 73 is respectable in the circumstances."

The 16-year-old Sergio Garcia has already qualified for the Open and a few miles down the road from here, along the promenade in Blackpool, teenage champions from 36 countries compete this week in the Junior Open. No silver claret jug for the winner but a golf scholarship to the Rossall School and two all-expenses paid trips to the David Leadbetter academy in Florida.

Scores, Digest, page 19

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test