Graeme McDowell to make St Annes appearance
A major winner is amongst those looking to reach the 147th Open Championship when final qualifying comes to St Annes Old Links on Tuesday.
Graeme McDowell is the star name in the field who will play 36 holes in a bid to seal one of three spots available in the 156-strong field that will tee it up at Carnoustie later this month.
He missed a chance to qualify by failing to secure one of three spots for non-exempt players in the top 10 at the HNA Open de France; he was joint 37th, 10 shots behind the winner, Alex Norden.
The 2010 US Open winner has been named as a vice-captain by European captain Thomas Bjorn for the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris in September.
Having made the team four times in the past though the Northern Irishman is still in contention to do so again and could give Bjorn plenty to think about.
His best finish at an Open came on the Fylde Coast in 2012 when he finished tied for fifth at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
Australia’s Richard Green is also looking to finish in the top three at St Annes to return to the Open.
The three-time European Tour winner, 47, has a best finish of fourth when the event was last played at Carnoustie in 2007.
Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano will also be among the more experienced names in the field, the 37-year having seven European Tour wins to his name.
Two-time Walker Cup player Stiggy Hodgson will be in action after setting a new course record at Alwoodley Golf Club as he came through regional qualifying with flying colours.
Local interest comes in the form of Royal Lytham and St Annes amateur Callan Barrow and Phillip Kelly, attached to The Coastal Property Group, Lytham, both of whom came through regional qualifying at Fairhaven last week.
Longridge’s Mark Young, one of a host of Lancashire contenders, heads to St Annes in fine form after back-to-back wins on the PGA EuroPro Tour, the latest at the Cumberwell Park Championship.
Having previously hosted final qualifying when the Open last came the Fylde coast back in 2012, St Annes is one of four final qualifying venues on Tuesday, events also taking place at Prince’s Golf Club, Sandwich, Notts Hollinwell Golf Club and The Renaissance Club, North Berwick.
Two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen is in action at Prince’s alongside Alfie Plant, the Silver Medal-winning leading amateur in last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale.
This year’s tournament at Carnoustie runs from July 19 to 22.