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Van de Velde struggles to seize his final Open chance

Jean Van de Velde's hopes of making it back into The Open were hanging by a thread after an opening five-over-par 76 in the 36-hole final qualifying competition here yesterday.

A total of 288 players were battling for only 12 places over three courses and Van de Velde was fighting an uphill battle from the moment he bogeyed the first four holes. The 1999 runner-up was at the French Open on Sunday and took a late-night flight from Paris to Prestwick, but it looked to be in vain as he trailed seven behind early leader Elliot Saltman, whose brother Lloyd – top amateur in the 2005 Open – was competing at Kilmarnock Barassie.

Former European Open champion Kenneth Ferrie, who missed out on a Turnberry spot by one shot by finishing sixth in France, returned a two-under 71 at Barassie, but that was four behind Spaniard Manuel Quiros. Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal and 1993 Ryder Cup team-mate Barry Lane were later starters there.

Three players who will be at Turnberry are American trio Bryce Molder, Paul Goydos and Brant Snedeker. Molder and Goydos secured their places as the top two players not already exempt in a mini-money list which ran from the Players Championship in May through to last week's AT&T National, while Snedeker's fifth place yesterday earned him a spot.