Aussie trio set for Open

Ashley Hall, Aaron Townsend and Nicholas Cullen have booked their places for the Open.
Ashley Hall, Aaron Townsend and Nicholas Cullen have booked their places for the Open.
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AUSTRALIANS Aaron Townsend, Nick Cullen and Ashley Hall have already booked their places in the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

They achieved it via Australasia International Final Qualifying.

In unseasonal conditions at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath, which saw wind gusts of more than 55mph, and lightning storms, players were forced off the course for more than two hours before Townsend eventually won the 36-hole event with a four-under-par 140.

Also finding the conditions challenging were Cullen and Hall who, along with Peter Senior, finished tied for second with nine-under-par totals.

Just one play-off hole, the seventh, was needed to decide the final two qualifiers as Senior’s par was not good enough to match birdie fours by Cullen and Hall as the pair booked their places at Lytham for the 141st Open Championship this July.

None of the trio have played in a major before.

The next phase of International Final Qualifying concludes in Johannesburg, with the same two-round format being employed.

FORMER champion Tom Lehman will return to the scene of his 1996 Open Championship triumph when he comes to Lytham this summer.

Lehman, the leading player on the US Champions Tour in 2011 and United States Ryder Cup captain in 2006, will stay in this country to take part in the Senior Open at Turnberry.