Open and shut case
TEN Herts players embarked on a mini golfing marathon this week, each playing a total of 54 holes over three days, with a journey of over 200 miles involved — all to realise a dream of playing in the Open Championship.
Golf by Alan Booth
TEN Herts players embarked on a mini golfing marathon this week, each playing a total of 54 holes over three days, with a journey of over 200 miles involved - all to realise a dream of playing in the Open Championship.
The players - amateurs Michael Moore, Nick Pateman, Tom Shadbolt and Ryan Newman and professionals Peter Cherry, Mark Laskey, Noel Quinn, James Ruebotham, Adam Scanlon and Lee Jordan - won through over 18 holes at regional qualifying at Ashridge or Old Fold Manor on Sunday, then dashed north to Lancashire, ready for final qualifying over the next two days at courses near this year's Open venue at Royal Birkdale.
In fields of 96, with only the top four at each of three courses gaining a coveted place when the Open starts a week today (Thursday), the competition was fierce, and in the end the dream ended for the Herts ten.
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Mark Laskey (The Shire) provided a stunning opening round of two under par 70 at Hillside, adjoining the Open course, to be tied third, but followed with 80 to finish tied 20th. Winner Jamie Elson (Kenilworth) shot 67 73 for 140, four under par, while Jean van de Velde, the Frenchman who lost his chance in the water at Carnoustie in 1999, shot 70 73 for 143, one under par, to gain the last of the four places. Also at Hillside, Noel Quinn (Redbourn) shot two rounds of 78, and Adam Scanlon (Brocket Hall) 83 79.
At Southport and Ainsdale, amateur Tom Shadbolt (Mid Herts) shot 74 82, and Porters Park pair Michael Moore 76 76, Nick Pateman 81 74, while pro Lee Jordan (Hartsbourne) hit 82 79. Winner was an amateur, James Sherreard (Chart Hills) 72 69 for 141, three under par.
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At West Lancashire amateur Ryan Newman (Brookmans Park) shot 74 82 and pros Peter Cherry (Ashridge) and James Ruebotham (Welwyn Garden City) shot 76 76 and 78 75 respectively. Winner was Ireland's Philip Walton, 72 70 for 142, two under par. Best positions returned for Herts golfers were Cherry tied 17th and Ruebotham tied 25th.
This was the first time the R&A had condensed the regional and final qualifying into three days - in previous years, the regional winners did not compete until the following Sunday and Monday of Open week.
At Ashridge on Sunday, where the leading score was five under par 67, Noel Quinn led the Herts regional qualifiers with 70, followed by James Ruebotham and Mark Laskey, both on 71, with Michael Moore, Peter Cherry and Nick Pateman on 72 going through in a play-off from a group of nine on that score playing for five places. Moore made sure with a birdie on the first hole. Fourteen places were on offer at each course.
Those who missed out were Paul Coburn (Sandy Lodge) 73, Andrew Hurley (Arkley) 74, Chris Weston (Whipsnade Park) 75, Tom Speyer (West Herts) 77, amateur Chris Corry (Sandy Lodge) 79, Stephen Harris (Harpenden), Paul Wilkins (Harpenden Common) 82.
At Old Fold Manor, where the leading score was 65, Herts qualifiers in a play-off on 71 were Lee Jordan (Hartsbourne) and amateurs Tom Shadbolt and Ryan Newman, with John Spagnuolo (The Hertfordshire) missing out, as did clubmate Tom Haylock on 72, along with amateurs Laurence Allen (Brookmans Park and James Jankowski (Potters Bar), 72, Stuart Mason (Berkhamsted) and James Conteh (Moor Park) 73, amateur Sam Claridge (Harpenden Common) 77, Nick Eyres (Old Fold Manor) 80, Matthew Masters (Porters Park) 81, Christopher Payne (The Hertfordshire) 89.