Open 2014: Singleton qualifies to join English ranks at Hoylake

Hillside Golf Club, Southport
Hillside was one of four courses used at Final Qualifying, along with Sunningdale, Gailes Links and Woburn

John Singleton booked himself a week's golf almost on his own doorstep as he qualified for his first Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

The Birkenhead factory worker will now tee up at Hoylake in a fortnight's time after shooting a second-round 66 at Hillside to earn one of the places available at Final Qualifying.

Yorkshire's Chris Hanson qualified too, as did Oliver Fisher at Woburn.

Matt Southgate and Chris Rodgers also made it through at Sunningdale.

That made a total of five Englishmen who booked one of the 12 places on offer to a 288-strong field spread over four Final Qualifying courses, Hillside, Sunningdale, Woburn and Gailes Links, in Ayrshire.

Singleton, who has kept his PGA status but also works in a resin factory, was delighted to have made it to Royal Liverpool, only five minutes' drive from his home in nearby Wallasey.

Who made it through Final Qualifying
Sunningdale: Matthew Southgate (England), Chris Rodgers (England), Byeong-Hun An (South Korea)
Gailes Links: Marc Warren (Scotland), Jamie McLeary (Scotland), Paul McKechnie (Scotland)
Woburn: Paul Dunne (Ireland), Oliver Fisher (England), Rhys Enoch (Wales)
Hillside: John Singleton (England), Chris Hanson (England), Oscar Floren (Sweden)

"It will be amazing to play in The Open. I expect I'll have a lot of support from my friends and family," said Singleton, who added a best-of-the-afternoon 66 to his opening 72.

"I only entered regional qualifying at Mere as an afterthought, with my dad, John, on the bag. I missed out by a shot and was one of the reserves."

He was joined by Challenge Tour player Hanson, who has finally made it to The Open after matching Singleton's score with a pair of 69s, and Oscar Floren of Sweden, but only after a four-man play-off.

Yorkshire amateur Chris Marsh also finished the day tied on six under par but could not make par at the second extra play-off hole.

"I've reached final qualifying several times before," said 28-year-old Hanson, from Huddersfield. "But the nearest I came was here at Hillside a few years ago when I missed out by three strokes. It's unbelievable."

Sunningdale proved the most testing of the four qualifying venues where only two players managed to break par.

Essex professional Southgate carded an opening one-over 70 before charging to the top of the leaderboard with a closing 64 for a four-under-par 134 winning aggregate.

"It's amazing, I must have tried to qualify for The Open 10 times since I got down to scratch as an amateur," said 25-year-old Southgate, from Southend, whose final round contained six birdies and just the one dropped shot at the 11th.

"I have been working hard with my coach, my preparation has been good and I'm just delighted it all came together."

London professional Rodgers, 38, had an agonising wait after bogeying the final hole, but his rounds of 67 and 72 for a one-over-par 139 were enough to secure the third and final spot behind Southgate and South Korea's Byeong-Hun An. "It's a dream come true," he said.

Essex professional Oliver Fisher, 25, made it through to his third Open as he shot 67-70 at Woburn to qualify in second place behind Irish amateur Paul Dunne and just ahead of Cornwall-based Welshman Rhys Enoch, who edged out English Amateur Tomasz Anderson in a play-off, chipping in at the first hole.

"I played steady golf all day," said Fisher, from Chigwell, who tied 32nd at Muirfield a year ago. "Tee to green I was very good but I didn't hole quite as many putts as I would have liked."

At Gailes Links, three Scottish golfers earned their passage to Hoylake, Marc Warren, Jamie McLeary and Paul McKechnie.

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