Open qualifying can be a hard enough job without the ruddy midges adding another layer of menace and mischief to affairs.

As the 36-hole scramble intensified at Dundonald Links last night, those nightmarish nibblers came out in force.

Forget nabbing a tee-time for the Royal Troon showpiece. For a spell, the most sought-after thing in this parish was a bottle of Avon Skin So Soft spray to keep the biting blighters at bay.

At four venues across the UK, some 288 players battled it out for just 16 Open places. It’s the kind of high stakes shoot-out that could be staged at Tombstone.

For LIV outlaw, Sergio Garcia, there would be no gun-slinging glory, though. The Spaniard’s three-under aggregate at West Lancashire was not enough to earn a top-four spot there.

While Justin Rose topped the qualifying at Burnham & Berrow, Garcia has now missed the last two Opens, after a run which saw him play every year since 1998. Adios, amigo.

Here at Dundonald, meanwhile, there was late night drama and jubilation for local lad Jack McDonald who held his nerve in a three-man play-off to seal a major debut in his own backyard. Even the midges stopped nibbling to take it all in.

Barassie member McDonald, who’s been watching all the Open infrastructure rising up while out walking his dog on Troon beach, was, well, the top dog in the sudden-death decider.

The 31-year-old had holed a raking 25-footer on the 18th green of his second round in a 69 to reach a four-under total and earn a play-off berth alongside his fellow Scot, Daniel Young, and Sweden’s Tim Widing.

Young could only muster a par on the first play-off hole before McDonald trundled in another raking putt for a decisive birdie to push himself to the brink of an Open place.

Widing had a chance to prolong the eliminator, but his own birdie putt missed. The Open tee-time belonged to McDonald.

Herald readers of a certain vintage will be well aware of McDonald’s grandfather, Gordon Cosh, one of Scotland’s great amateur golfers of yore.

Cosh, a former Scottish champion and Walker Cup campaigner, played in the Duel in the Sun Open of 1977. Here in 2024, his grandson is relishing the prospect of his own day in the Open sun. Or whatever the Scottish summer throws up.

“Going into this (qualifier) I just had a feeling,” said the former Walker Cup player, who had his brother, Ross, acting as caddie for the tough qualifying shift.

“I remember playing in the Amateur Championship in 2012 at Royal Troon and I was like ‘how good would it be to play in an Open there?’ I just can’t believe that it is going to happen now.

‘My papa is an honorary member at Royal Troon. Going back to when I was just a boy, he would sign me on to play.

‘It’ll be amazing. I’ve been walking the dog next to the course along the beach and you can see all the grandstands.

“I’m going on holiday the next few days and I’ll come back from that and then go and play in The Open. It’s so cool

‘Getting into any Open Championship is great. But, for me, even more so the fact it’s at Troon.

‘I didn’t think it would happen. Just having a chance to compete with the world’s best is all I’ve wanted. That’s why I’m a professional golfer, to play in these events.”

At the head of the qualifying standings, Englishman Sam Hutsby led the way with an eight-under total after rounds of 67 and 69.

In the wind, rain and whatever else Mother Nature could toss in, the 35-year-old had just one bogey in 36-holes as he eased through to his first Open.

“I can’t say it was pretty golf today,” he conceded. “But the scorecard doesn’t show that. It didn’t look like a one bogey day. It was a real grind.”

Open qualifying can be like that. Spain’s Angel Hidalgo, meanwhile, went from the grind to the gobsmacking as he holed his second shot on his final hole for a thrilling eagle in a 69 to vault onto five-under and seal his Royal Troon spot with a flourish. Irish amateur, Liam Nolan, also progressed on five-under.

Liam Johnston, whose brother is The Herald’s sports editor, could’ve prompted the publication of a souvenir supplement but he just missed out on the play-off by a shot on three-under.