O'Hara and Saltman Book Open Tickets / Agony for Shields and Doak
Steven O’Hara and Elliot Saltman today held their nerve to book their places in The Open Championship later this month, but there was agony for amateur Paul Shields and Chris Doak at Local Final Qualifying (LFQ).
On a day when 288 players set out seeking to achieve their Open dream, only 12 progressed across four venues to contest the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Among their number after the 36-hole shoot-outs were English veterans Paul Broadhurst and Barry Lane, as well as Scottish pair O’Hara and Saltman.
O’Hara, the 2000 Scottish Amateur champion and former GB&I 2001 Walker Cup, came through a play-off at West Lancashire the expense of Welsh amateur Richard Bentham and first round leader, American Marty Jertson. He did so at the fifth extra hole to finally seal his Open debut.
At Southport & Ainsdale, Doak – the former Northern Open winner and a member of Team Scottish Hydro – looked in fine fettle to qualify only to drop into a play-off after finishing double bogey, bogey and then miss out at the first extra hole.
Instead, coming through the play-off, was local professional from Royal Liverpool, Ian Keenan, and Saltman, who made his only Open appearance in 2009 at Turnberry after coming through LFQ at Gailes Links.
Saltman, who was cheered on by his brother Lloyd, made a quick car dash north to catch a 6.30am flight to London tomorrow en route to Ireland for a Europro event. At least his tiredness will be eased at the prospect of lining up in The Open.
For Kirkhill’s Shields, the SGU National Men’s Squad player and joint-winner of the South African Northern Amateur Open, it was a day that was almost the best day of his golfing life.
At Hillside, Shields posted a five-under-par total and was lying second with a number of the field still to finish.
Shields, 21, waited two hours before looking on in dejection as Steven Tiley, at six-under, and Warren Bennett, at eight under, both overhauled him.
“I’m gutted,” said Shields, who fired a brilliant 66 after his opening 73. “I played nicely so it was a real sore one at the end.
“It was exciting for a while, I was five-under-par for the back nine, but it’s a lottery and all I can say is that I did my very best.”
The 12 qualifiers will line-up alongside 144 other competitors at Royal Lytham & St Annes from 19-22 July.