An email conversation with Open qualifier Simon Dyson

'My secret? I don't really know. I suppose I'm quite a decent player'
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The Independent Online

You qualified for this week's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale by beating Jose Maria Olazabal in a sudden-death play-off at Sunningdale. It must have been great, but did you feel for Spaniard? Yes, because after the first two holes of the play-off there was me, Bakes [Peter Baker] and Ollie, and none of us had really hit a bad shot in 38 holes. I thought it was a shame someone had to lose. I felt for him because I know how I would have felt. But from first tee to the 39th green, I was trying my arse off because I really wanted to get in it. Sometimes you go in thinking, "We'll see what happens," but this time I really wanted to qualify.

What is your secret? Qualifying for a major can be a lottery and yet you have done it time and again. I don't know. I suppose I'm quite a decent player. Whenever I get into the play-off situation I think I'm going to do it.

What has been your best Open experience? At St Andrews in 2005, I was top of the leaderboard after 28 holes, at about six under. But my best one was Hoylake, two years ago. I love the course and the atmosphere was fantastic. The millennium Open at St Andrews was good but Hoylake was better. It was nice to have a change of venue.

Do you know Birkdale? Have you played it much? I've played it a few times. It will look totally different for the Open. I've done OK there, so hopefully that can rub off.

You are part of a famously sporty family. Elaborate, please. My uncle, Terry Dyson, was in Tottenham's double-winning side of 1960-61 and then won the Cup Winners' Cup. My dad was a pro with Middlesbrough. My grandad, Ginger Dyson, was a jockey. My cousin Neil was a Davis Cup squad tennis player for Britain. My cousin Mark played professional cricket. My brother Barry and cousin Barry are both good all-round sportsmen.

Are you also related to anyone who makes vacuum cleaners? I wish. I bought one recently. I was filling out the form and I was asked my name. I said: "It's Dyson." They said: "Any relation?" I said: "Do you think I'd be buying one if I was?"

You like your tennis. What did you think of the men's Wimbledon final? The best ever. Couldn't get enough of it. I wasn't bothered who won because they are both fantastic. Roger Federer has been the best player ever so it would have been great to get six in a row. But everyone loves Rafael Nadal and he's such a nice lad. He plays unbelievably well.

How much has last year's USPGA – where you finished in a share of sixth place – given you confidence for the majors? To finish like that in America, where I don't have much experience, was great. It just makes you want to play in more world-class events with the best players.

You have been consistent this year, though without troubling the leaders. What has been the problem? It's been nothing swing-wise. I've been struggling with my equipment, to be quite honest. I swapped from Titleist to Nike at the beginning of the year. My driver, three-wood and putter have been no problem but I've been struggling with my irons and the ball. In the last two or three weeks I've swapped back to the original ball that I nearly won with in Malaysia and I've got Nike to make me up a set of irons that are a little bit more like my Titleist, a little bit more offset. I'm finally hitting the shots I want to hit.

You were in a winning Walker Cup team in 1999 with the likes of Luke Donald and Paul Casey. Has it been hard trying to match their achievements? When someone like Peter McAvoy says the only two golfers in his team who are going to make it are Luke Donald and Paul Casey, it's nice to prove him wrong. Graeme Storm's done just that; Paddy Gribben's been on the Tour, and Graham Rankin. I think six or seven from that 10-man team have had a European Tour card at some point. It shows what a good team it was.

You started off on the Asian tour: why? I tried to qualify for Europe but missed out. It was either spend another year messing around or get out to Asia for some experience. I didn't fancy it, to be honest, but I loved it. It was the best year of my life, by a mile, even now. Everyone was so friendly. I was seeing the world. And I won three times. A great experience.

As a young footballer you were on the books of Scarborough and York City. So why golf? I love my football but I got into golf so much that I was training on a football pitch and all I could think of was being on a golf course. I made my choice.

You used to have a reputation for liking nightclubs. Is that all in the past? I haven't been in a club for three years now. I used to like them, when I was a 21-year-old lad, earning six figures. You enjoy it. Everyone has done it at some point. But then you realise what you want from the game – trophies and more money. I go through spells now when I don't drink for two or three months and then have a good night. It's my girlfriend's birthday on the Sunday of the Open. I won't have had a drink for seven weeks so I'll enjoy that, instead of doing it two or three times a week.

How sweet would it be, as a Yorkshireman, to win an Open in Lancashire? Fantastic. To win anywhere would be great.


*Born 21 December 1977, York

* 1999 Runner-up in English Amateur Open and winner of the Finnish Amateur Open. Member of victorious Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team, with team-mates including Luke Donald and Paul Casey. Turns professional in September

* 2000 Tops Asian Tour Order of Merit, winning three tournaments. Plays his first Open, at St Andrews

* 2001 Becomes a regular on the European Tour

* 2005 Makes cut at Open for the first time, again at St Andrews, and goes on to finish in joint-34th place

* 2006 Wins first European Tour title at the Indonesia Open. Wins KLM Open. Finishes the year 21st in the Order of Merit

* 2007 Part of victorious Great Britain & Ireland team in the Seve Trophy.