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Club gaffe costs Higgins Open spot

ESPN staff
July 4, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
David Higgins will not be playing at Muirfield © Getty Images
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David Higgins derailed his chances of playing in the Open Championship when he discovered a 15th club in his bag while competing in the first play-off hole of a local qualifier in Scotland on Tuesday.

Higgins, 40, an Irishman ranked 695th in the world and who has twice played in the Open, was in a three-man play-off for two spots at North Berwick when he remembered the extra hybrid, which he had placed back in his bag following the initial 36 holes.

The resulting two-stroke penalty meant Gareth Wright, who birdied the hole, and George Murray, who carded a par, advanced alongside Jimmy Mullen who finished at the head of affairs at the East Lothian club.

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And Higgins insists that he only has himself to blame for the blunder.

"I couldn't believe it but was delighted to see the way things were panning out as I moved up the leaderboard and became more confident that I could get one of the spots available in the playoff," he explained.

"I decided to go the range to warm up again and hit a few balls. I just took driver, mid iron and wedge. It was still raining really hard so I kept the rain cover on my bag.

"My caddie for the day, Monty, a local man that knows North Berwick like the back of his hand, had done a great job all day and was up for the play-off.

"We headed for the tee. I hit a good tee shot and good second to about 15 feet. I was hunkered down reading my putt when the thought suddenly came into my head, 'Did I take that other rescue out of the bag?'

"I stood up and felt a bit sick in my stomach as I walked over to the bag to check. And there she was looking up at me!

"It was a horrible thing to happen but I have no-one to blame only myself. I guess the excitement and adrenaline rush of getting another opportunity to play in the greatest golf event in the world clouded my judgement and I made a mistake."

Murray, meanwhile, was full of sympathy for his opponent.

"Obviously, it's magic to play in the Open and I'm really excited,'' he told the Open's website. "I do feel bad about what happened to David, but he was totally honest and came straight out with it when he realised his mistake.''

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