Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Plano, Texas: Davis Love III will be making his 25th consecutive Open Championship appearance at Royal St George’s, this summer, after earning his place at a weather-shortened International Final Qualifying (IFQ) America on Monday.
Stormy conditions greeted 78 players in their attempt to reach golf’s oldest Major Championship, to be held from July 14 to 17. Severe thunderstorms forced a suspension of play lasting six hours, beginning at 10:36am, leading R and A officials to reduce the event from 36 to 18 holes.

The 6,871yd, par-70 Queens Course at Gleneagles Country Club hosted the event for the third-consecutive year to determine the eight qualifiers. In addition to Love III, Brian Davis, Chad Campbell, Nathan Green, Spencer Levin, Chris Tidland and Bob Estes all advanced.
The final place went to Jerry Kelly, who survived a six-man play-off with Justin Hicks, Brandt Snedeker, Marc Leishman, D A Points and Chris DiMarco, after all finished on three under par.
Love III made his first appearance in The Open at Muirfield in 1987. The 20-time US PGA Tour-winner finished tied for fourth in 2003 at Royal St George’s for the best of his five top-10 finishes.

“I played real well the first 12 holes,” said the 47-year-old, who was five under after 12 holes, when the suspension came. “I had birdie putts on all but one hole. But we were into the wind [after the suspension] all the way in and it played tougher.

“I just wanted to get in,” said Love, who also qualified at Gleneagles in 2009, finishing tied for third.

Brian Davis signed for a bogey-free, six-under-par 64 to win the event by one stroke over Campbell. The 37-year-old from London had extra incentive to advance to his first Open Championship since 2007. Royal St George’s was the site of his best Open finish in 2003, when he tied for sixth.

“My ball-striking [today] was awesome,” said Davis. “Any mishit I had went straight, so you know you’re playing well when that happens.”

The highlight of Davis’ round came at the 15th hole, where he holed a 25-footer from off the green for one of six birdies.

“I’m regarded as a good putter but it has been my weak link this year,” said Davis, who has made seven cuts in his last eight starts. “Once we get that ball rolling, we’ll be back in the ball game.”

The 45-year-old Estes finished tied for eighth at St Andrews in 1995, for his best showing in 11 starts at The Open. He will be making his first start at the event since 2004.

"I qualified for my first Open Championship in 1990 for St Andrews,” said Estes. “As far as I'm concerned, it is THE tournament. It is the one I've wanted to win the most."

Tidland, a 38-year-old veteran of both the US PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour, couldn’t have been happier about qualifying for his first Open.

"It was a good day for me,” said Tidland. “This is what we play for, to play in Major Championships. This is my first Open and Seve was my idol growing up. With him passing away, it will be pretty cool to play this year because I’m sure they will do something special for him."

Kelly’s play-off win came with a par on the third extra hole over Hicks, with the other four players eliminated on the first hole. The 44-year-old will make a return to Sandwich, where in 2003 he opened on the par-four first hole with an 11.

This is the eighth time that IFQ has been held in the United States, and the third straight time in Texas. Gleneagles was chosen due to its proximity to the US PGA Tour’s Texas swing, less than 50 miles from the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, where last week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational was played, and just 20 miles from the TPC Four Seasons Resort, where the HP Byron Nelson Championship is being contested this week.
Full hole-by-hole scores can be found on http://www.opengolf.com/.



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