Lane angry as just 53 chase ticket to US

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The Independent Online

What is it they say, that people in glasshouses should not hit golf balls? The British game was forced to fill itself with this humble truism yesterday after a humiliating turn-out for the first US Open qualifier on European soil that must have had the Americans giggling with vindication.

What is it they say, that people in glasshouses should not hit golf balls? The British game was forced to fill itself with this humble truism yesterday after a humiliating turn-out for the first US Open qualifier on European soil that must have had the Americans giggling with vindication.

It was not even a year ago when they were accused by their holier-than-thou cousins from across the pond of not giving a stuff about our hallowed Open Championship when only 64 lined up in Washington for the 15 spots on offer at Troon, with 50 no-shows.

"American golfers are like prawns on a hot Sunday," said one disgruntled British pro. "They don't travel well."

Fast forward to Walton Heath yesterday for European golf's impression of an ostrich with vertigo - "not the best flyers" - when 53 bothered to fight it out for the nine berths up for grabs for next week's US Open. As the Surrey course could quite easily have accommodated a field of 100, this was spookily familiar.

At least Britain managed to get the insults in first, as Barry Lane, the 44-year-old former Ryder Cup player, went on the attack against his young colleagues who chose to withdraw. "They're not showing any ambition," said Lane, whose own ambitions were wrecked by a second-round 78. "This might have been the one and only time they got into the US Open." Nick Dougherty backed him up, saying: "I'm shocked - other people must have something very important on if they didn't want to be here."

The effort of 36 holes in a day proved well worth it for the 23-year-old who was one of three Englishmen to make it to Pinehurst - Jonathan Lomas and Simon Dyson joining the Liverpudlian - after an afternoon 66 on the New Course repaired the damage of a 73 on the Old Course in the morning. Incredibly, this will be Dougherty's first major. "It feels awesome," he said.

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