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It was a tale of two Ryder Cup heroes on Golf’s Longest Day. 

Final Qualifying for The Open at Royal Troon produced more thrilling storylines across its four esteemed links venues – West Lancashire, Burnham and Berrow, Dundonald and Royal Cinque Ports.

Justin Rose lived up to his billing as an overwhelming favourite to punch his ticket to Troon, finishing eight-under across a marathon 36 holes on Tuesday at Burnham and Berrow.

The former world No.1 posted impressive rounds of 66 and 68 under unique pressure to top the leaderboard alongside English amateur Dominic Clemons in Somerset.

Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, suffered heartache once more on the rolling hills of Merseyside.

For the second time in two years, Garcia narrowly missed out at West Lancs, with his three-under aggregate coming up just two shots shy.

The Spaniard was vying for his 100th major start – but will now have to wait until next year’s Masters, where he will return as a former champion.

Rounds of 71 and 70 left Garcia unable to join the lineup at Royal Troon. It was a frustrating day for the Fireballs GC captain, who was seen remonstrating with officials midway through his first round.

He attracted huge crowds throughout, but grew frustrated after his group were given a slow play warning.

Garcia was adamant that his group were only falling behind because marshals were unable to control the large galleries, as he had to wait on several tee boxes for fans to move away from his line.

Local amateur Matthew Dodd-Berry, LIV Golf’s Sam Horsfield and DP World Tour pros Daniel Brown and Masahiro Kawamura all secured their Open places at West Lancs.

At Dundonald, the only Scottish Final Qualifying venue, it was a day of changeable weather and an even more unpredictable leaderboard.

Robert Rock was the star attraction at the Ayrshire venue, with the Englishman looking to qualify for the Open in the same way he made it through to the US equivalent.

The DP World Tour winner made a solid start with a one-under-par opening loop around the links, but after 27 holes, things had gone awry.

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Rock, like many others in the field at Dundonald, was undone by horrific weather which battered the west coast, as most were getting their second rounds underway. At the 18th green, Rock’s 27th, it was handshakes with his playing partners, as all three headed for the clubhouse.

One man who was not heading for an early bath was Sam Hutsby. Instead, a dominant performance saw him punching his ticket to Royal Troon. The 35-year-old will make his first major start in just a fortnight’s time, thanks to excellent rounds of 67 and 69.

In fact, Hutsby only carded one bogey all day, as he stayed the course at the top of the board.

While Hutsby was ever present at the top, one of the men in second place certainly wasn’t.

Marbella-born Angel Higaldo came to his 36th hole of the day at three-under-par, knowing that a birdie on the 421-yard ninth at Dundonald would give him a fighting chance at a playoff. He went one better.

A perfect drive left him 99 metres, an ideal distance for his gap wedge, which landed just right of the hole, before disappearing. It was a shot which reverberated around the grounds of Dundonald and ultimately secured the Spaniard’s trip to Troon. You won’t meet a happier man in Scotland after that, and no wonder.

Higaldo’s heroics saw him join Galway amateur Liam Nolan, who also posted a five-under-par total. His methods were slightly more conventional, as steady rounds of 69 and 70 were enough to see him through.

As Higaldo was signing his card and, rightly, taking his congratulations, local favourite Jack McDonald was making his way up the 18th, a par-5 that was reachable in two in now favourable conditions. The Kilmarnock man knew that he needed a birdie to stand a chance to make it to the final men’s major of the year, and that’s exactly what he produced.

McDonald joined Swedish hope Tim Widing at four-under-par, and all eyes were on the last man on the golf course, Daniel Young. The Perthshire man, who represents Kingsbarns, needed a birdie on any of his last four holes to make the Open. But, four pars meant he was heading for a three-man playoff.

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All three players found themselves with makeable birdie putts. Young went first and missed, McDonald then holed his, leaving Widing with a putt from around eight feet to keep things going. But, it slid by, confirming Jack McDonald as the fourth man to make the Open at Dundonald.

Meanwhile, Southgate in! That was the cry from Royal Cinque Ports, as an emotional Matthew Southgate booked his spot in the Open, taking top spot.

The Englishman explained to Open Radio that he was thinking of his father, as he secured his spot at Royal Troon. He certainly deserved it too, with seven birdies in his second round at RCP leaving the rest of the field in his rear view mirror.

Three shots further back, two players tied for second place. Elvis Smylie and Jaime Montojo Fernandez both recorded totals of three-under-par and will both play in their first major championship in a fortnight’s time.

Just like Dundonald, though, there was late drama in the form of a playoff in the south-east of England.

Three men were battling for one spot. Jamie Rutherford, Branden Grace and Luis Masaveu all tied on two-under-par and it was time for some late extra hole drama.

However, unlike Dundonald, there was no blood in the first playoff hole. On the next sudden death hole, the Spanish amateur Masaveu looked the outsider to progress, but he drained his lengthy putt before watching his professional opponents miss.

Two Spanish amateurs qualifying from the same venue is quite something, but that’s before you consider Masaveu and Montojo Fernandez are from the same club. Royal Club La Moraleja will be well represented at Royal Troon.

Here is the full list of qualifiers from each venue at Final Qualifying…

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West Lancashire GC

Matthew Dodd-Berry (a), Sam Horsfield, Daniel Brown, Masahiro Kawamura

Burnham and Berrow

Justin Rose, Dominic Clemons (a), Abraham Ancer, Charlie Lindh

Royal Cinque Ports

Matthew Southgate, Elvis Smylie, Jaime Montojo (a), Luis Masaveu


Sam Hutsby, Angel Hidalgo, Liam Nolan (a), Jack McDonald

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