US Open Qualifying
Walton Heath is delighted to have been invited by the USGA to stage its non USA qualifying event for the eleventh year in succession. - 30th May 2016
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CLICK HERE for the 2016 Draw Sheet
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The Day and the Venue
For those who have not attended before, the event is golf watching at its best. Play is over 36 holes on the day, one round on each of the two championship courses. The event is kept low key with no ropes or barriers giving a unique opportunity to walk with the players, hear players and caddies discussing their strategies and club selection and occasional post shot post mortems. The players are in relaxed mode, there being no prize money at stake, with the nature of the event encouraging attacking golf and low scoring.
Following Colin Mongomerie’s late withdrawal there were four former Ryder Cup players in the field. England’s Simon Dyson chipped in for eagle on the opening hole and did not look back as he started his bid for a place at Beth Page Black with a six-under-par 66. By the end of play, Simon Kahn and Raphael Jaquelin led with seven players going to sudden death for the final four places. With four players birdying the first, the gallery watched as Peter Hansen holed in one at the 206 yard 17th to take the last spot. “I was pumped up so switched from a five iron to a six and knew I had to hit it really well to land it on the front of the green, it was just a perfect shot”, said Hansen.
Among those entered for a chance to compete in the second major of the year at Torrey Pines were Darren Clarke, former British Open champion, Paul Lawrie, recent Irish Open and Spanish Open winners, Richard Finch and Peter Lawrie. Dubliner’s Paul McGinley and Rory McIlroy, top amateur from last years’ Open were also in the field but all failed to make it. Ross Fisher took top spot with compatriot Ross McGowan leaving Thomas Levet and Johan Edfors as leading continentals. Career Amateur Gary Wolstenholme – having earned the first alternate slot travelled to Torry Pines as a stand-by for a place in the championship. At midday on Wednesday, he was on the practice pitching area when he got the call.
By now, a firm favourite with the players and spectators alike, 2007 brought a field including Ryder Cup regulars Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke, the unforgettable man of Carnoustie, Jean Van de Velde, Tiger’s collegiate team mate Notah Begay as well as local newcomers to the professional ranks, Ross Fisher and James Heath. The qualifiers were led by Nick Dougherty at eight under with eight nationalities included in the nine qualifiers. Nick was to go to his first US Major and followed up with a credible performance in the 2008 Masters.
Following the success of 2005, a second international qualifying event was added in Japan and Walton Heath was asked to host again in Europe. Maarten Lafeber of the Netherlands, shot rounds of 64-66 for a remarkable 14 under par total of 130 to head a group of eight qualifiers. Lafeber, who then played in his second US Open, made 16 birdies and two bogeys in his trips around Walton Heath’s Old and New courses. A nail-biting five man play-off for the remaining two spots completed a great days golf for the spectators with the only amateur in the field, England’s Gary Wolstenholme, missing out by the narrowest of margins, finishing third.
For the first time, a qualifying event was held outside the US with Walton Heath selected as the venue and nine places available to progress directly in to the US Open. Peter Hanson and Jonathan Lomas led the field tied at 10 under with Peter Hedblom, claiming the last spot with an unforgettable finish of eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie over the last four holes of the New course and a course record of 65. To everyone’s delight, Michael Campbell from New Zealand, who qualified at Walton heath with a score of 5 under par, went on to win the US Open Championship two weeks later.