Following The Drama of Regional Open Championship Qualifying
Golfshake Ambassador Andy Picken spent the day observing Regional Qualifying at Kedleston Park Golf Club for the 150th Open Championship and shares his observations from a memorable experience.
The first Open Championship took place at Prestwick on October 17th 1860. A field of eight Scottish professionals battled it out over three 12-hole rounds. None of them could have imagined how important this event would become to the world.
Old Tom Morris - the keeper of the greens at Prestwick - was the favourite to triumph, but the first Open was instead won by Willie Park Snr.
The championship has provided some incredible golfing memories and each of the prospective applicants for entry to the competition must have a dream to walk that hallowed turf of St Andrews in the company of the world’s greatest golfers in July.
The initial stages for the 150th Open began at 15 Regional Qualifying centres around the UK on Monday.
Thousands of elite golfing athletes attempting to secure one of the treasured places. Only 156 are allowed to compete in the tournament and there are over 2,500 applicants from five continents around the world.
To qualify to play you must be a professional golfer, amateur off scratch or better with 0.4 being the ballot ceiling. You can also apply if you are an amateur who has featured within the top 2000 in the world rankings in the previous year. There is a £150 entry fee to apply.
Kedleston Park Golf Club
I spent yesterday at my home club of Kedleston Park in Derby closely watching proceedings across the country using the excellent R&A app and website.
Access to the course was free for spectators. Given that Final Qualifying is available to past Champions there are likely to be some real golfing celebrities on show in the next series of Final Qualifying events.
Kedleston Park attracted a host of applicants from around the world including close relatives of Seve Ballesteros. There was a broad range of competitors from around the world.
As I wandered around my home course I could feel the eager anticipation, excitement and nervous energy from dawn to dusk.
As you would expect the course conditioning was simply superb. The course was a wonderful but fair test of golf. The hard work from the whole team was rewarded by some incredibly positive comments by all who played.
I was surprised to find that first prize for a professional entrant was £800, followed by £600 for second and £400 for third.
This event isn't about the monetary value though, this is about the opportunity to be able to create history and take part in one of the most important golfing events of the decade.
I am very much looking forward to playing on Wednesday in the midweek medal when the event has an option to play from the championship tees to championship pin positions.
There have been some extraordinary performances around the UK. A real stand out was Sean Keeling, a 15-year-old, playing at County Leath. He recorded a round of 65 shots, after starting with a bogey he returned eight birdies and nine pars to gain first place. Sean is ranked 33rd in Europe currently and on closer examination has a very impressive resume of wins under his belt in the under 18 group. Clearly a very talented player.
At the other end of the age scale was Craig Hancox, 54, who fulfilled a lifetime ambition by playing in his first qualifying event.
"My first time playing in Open Qualifying and what an experience, a privilege," Craig reflected. "The course was in amazing condition, greens absolutely perfect. True and fast with some great run-off areas for a slightly off-centre shot. The bunkering is probably the best I’ve ever seen. The green staff did an amazing job getting the course to such a high standard. It normally plays 72 par but played par 70 and 7,000 yards off the back tees. I would definitely recommend a day out at Kedleston Park, you won’t be disappointed."
The oldest & most prestigious major, a trip to The Open is a must for every golf fan. From tickets and transfers to hospitality & golf, Golfbreaks.com can build the perfect package to help you experience The Open in style.
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