Colin Montgomerie qualifies for The 145th Open at Royal Troon
By Andy Swales
Last Updated: 29/06/16 9:43am
Colin Montgomerie will play at next month's Open Championship at Royal Troon after surviving a tense afternoon of qualifying at Gailes Links in Scotland.
The 53-year-old posted rounds of 66 and 71 to snatch one of the three spots up for grabs during Tuesday's 36-hole qualifying event at the Ayrshire Course.
However, Montgomerie had to endure an anxious wait to discover his fate after completing his second round late in the afternoon.
The former European No 1 managed to remain one-stroke clear of Jack Doherty who finished at four under. His fellow Scot Doherty was unable to recover from a bogey-four at the 15th - his only dropped shot of the round.
An eight-time Ryder Cup player and former European captain, Montgomerie revealed his delight at qualifying to play at Royal Troon where his father was once the club secretary.
Montgomerie admitted having a nervous time waiting for his compatriot to finish on the 18th green and he told Sky Sports News HQ: "I was biting my finger nails and hoping it was good enough.
"The advantage I had was sometimes it is more difficult playing catch up. Don't forget I'm the oldest player here and 36 holes in a day can be tough. I was up at five o'clock this morning.
"And this will be my last opportunity to play at Royal Troon because it only comes around once every 12 years.
"But it was nice to come here with 72 players, a high-quality field and to finish third, which is all one has to do."
It will be his first Open appearance for six years. His highest finish in the championship is second to Tiger Woods at St Andrews 11 years ago.
Monty finished five strokes adrift of venue winner Oscar Arvidsson, a Swede who carded rounds of 64 and 68.
Arvidsson plays much of his golf in Asia and is ranked a lowly 1,418 in the world. The other qualifier from Gailes was Spaniard Scott Fernandez who posted scores of 70 and 66 over the par 71 course.
Gailes was one of four venues being used by the Royal & Ancient for Final Qualifying on Tuesday.
At Woburn, Paul Dunne led the way with impressive rounds of 68 and 67 over The Marquess Course.
The Irishman, who shot to fame as an amateur at St Andrews last year, completed 36 holes in nine-under-par.
After a bogey-free morning, the afternoon round was a mixed bag of eight birdies and three bogeys, as he crossed the finishing line one stroke clear of Wellingborough pro Ryan Evans.
Dunne, 23, hit the headlines last July as the 54-hole leader of The Open Championship at the Old Course, since when he has turned professional.
It is the third consecutive year that Dunne has come through qualifying to play in The Open and he said: "Troon is much tighter than St Andrews, a different test. If I don't get to play at the Scottish Open, I'll go up early and get in a few practice rounds."
The third spot at Woburn was secured by Robert Rock who beat Aaron Rai in a play-off, after the pair had tied on seven under par. Rock edged it with a par-four on the only extra hole.
A relieved Rock, 39, said: "I always feel if I don't qualify for The Open something is missing from my year."
At Royal Cinque Ports on the Kent coast, European Tour player Matthew Southgate emerged victorious with scores of 70 and 66.
The 27-year-old finished three strokes clear of fellow Englishman James Heath and Kiwi Steve Alker who also booked their spots at next month's third major championship of the year.
Last summer, the resident of Southend was diagnosed with testicular cancer but has battled his way back to full health.
A thrilled Southgate said: "I was out of action following the illness but, after getting my Tour card back last autumn, everything has gone well. I've already earned enough money in 2016 to win my card back for next season."
On Tuesday, in testing conditions, Southgate made just two bogeys in 36 holes.
And finally, at Hillside in Southport, Jack Senior won by three shots thanks to rounds of 69 and 70 and the world No 538 admitted: "It will be a great occasion. My friends and family will be with me."
The final two spots at Hillside were only decided following a five-man play-off. Dave Coupland was first to book his place in Ayrshire, while local player Paul Howard joined him two holes later. The unlucky three were Scott Arnold, Jay Taylor and amateur Steven Robins.
-10: Oskar Arvidsson
-6: Scott Fernandez
-5: Colin Montgomerie
-9: Paul Dunne
-8: Ryan Evans
-7: Robert Rock (beat Aaron Rai in play-off)
ROYAL CINQUE PORTS
-6: Matthew Southgate
-3: Steven Alker
-3: James Heath
-5: Jack Senior
-2: Paul Howard
-2: Dave Coupland
(also on (-2) but missing out after a play-off were Scott Arnold, Jay Taylor and amateur Steven Robins).