They come from all walks of golfing life to have a crack at Open qualifying. Yesterday, some 1300 hopefuls spread across 13 different venues, teed-it up at the 18-hole regional shoot-outs looking to progress to next week’s 36-hole final qualifiers where only 12 Open places will be on offer.

In many ways, there’s more chance of Boris Johnson and his partner combining harmoniously to win the Sunningdale Foursomes as some of the players at regional qualifying have of earning a tee-time for golf’s most venerated major. But you’ve got to be in it to win it.

Shaun Murphy, the former snooker world champion who is also a scratch gowfer, decided to give it a go at County Louth in Ireland.

His 84 may have been a handy break on the green baize but it certainly wasn’t going to cut the mustard in Open qualifying and his 12-over card saw him finish well down the order. He needed more than a few snookers after that round.

There was better news, though, for a host of Scottish players strewn across the land as they negotiated the first hurdle and earned a spot at next week’s two round showdown which will be staged at St Annes Old Links, Notts Hollinwell, Prince’s and the Fairmont St Andrews.

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At Panmure near Carnoustie, former European Tour player Craig Lee celebrated his wild card pick for this season’s GB&I PGA Cup team by claiming one of 10 qualifying spots on offer.

The Stirling man posted a one-over 71 and shared fourth, one shot behind the leading trio of Anton Hansson of Sweden, Forres amateur Jeff Wright and Alva’s Laurence Allan.

Fife’s Peter Whiteford (pictured), another former European Tour campaigner, also progressed alongside Tartan Tour stalwart Paul McKechnie, who qualified for the 2014 Open at Hoylake.


Over the border at Goswick, Liberton amateur Kieran Cantley topped the leaderboard with a neatly assembled seven-under 65. The GB&I Walker Cup squad member finished one clear of fellow Scot, Neil Fenwick, as the tartan twosome led seven players into the final stage.

Ryan Lumsden, the Scottish amateur who earned a spot in the US Open last year, posted a five-under 67 to qualify at Burhill but Sean Lawrie, whose well-kent uncle Paul won the Open 20 years ago, saw his hopes of making it a family affair thwarted at the first hurdle as he failed to make the grade with a 75 at Minchinhampton.

One player who doesn’t have to worry about the qualifying rigmarole is Oban’s Robert MacIntyre. The Oban left-hander earned his place in the Open field off the European Tour’s rankings as the young rookie’s fine season teed-up a major debut.

With two runner-up finishes on the circuit, MacIntyre is now preparing for three weeks of links golf which takes in the Irish Open, the Scottish Open and the Open itself at Portrush.

Having made his mark on the links scene in the unpaid game – he won the Scottish Amateur title at Muirfield and was beaten in the final of the Amateur Championship at Porthcawl – the Scot is relishing the weeks ahead.

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“I did well on links courses when I was an amateur and hopefully I can rekindle some memories,” he said. “The first Open I attended was probably in 2004 at Troon. I went to watch it with my parents and was buzzing to get the chance to see the top players.

“I thought the chance of getting into the Open or a major might never come around again after losing the final of the 2016 Amateur Championship, but here we are. I have managed to achieve it and I’m over the moon.”

There will be 12 more players hoping to get that feeling next week.