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Amateur Dunne tops Open qualifiers

ESPN staff
July 1, 2014 « Birkdale and Carnoustie to host Open again | WILL TEST Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Royal Liverpool in Hoylake has hosted the Open Championship 11 times before this year © PA Photos
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Irish amateur Paul Dunne secured a spot at the Open Championship just days after helping Europe win the Palmer Cup - the Ryder Cup-style alternative for university golfers.

Dunne, 21, studying at the University of Alabama, carded rounds arrived on the first tee at Woburn with just a minute to spare - but went on to card successive rounds of 67 to finish top at 10-under - three clear of English European tour golfer Oliver Fisher, who also qualified.

Speaking of almost missing his tee time, Dunne told TheOpen.com: "It gave me a bit of a fright. I misjudged the time it would take me to get from the clubhouse out to the 10th tee but fortunately I managed to hit my opening tee shot straight down the middle.

"It has been an incredible couple of days both here and at Walton Heath [for the Palmer Cup win] and it's something I will never forget.

Watson handed Open extension

Tom Watson will end his career at the Open at St Andrews © Getty Images
  • Five-time champion Tom Watson will get his Open Championship exemption extended by one year so he can conclude his career at St Andrews with a 40th-anniversary appearance in the tournament.
  • Click here to continue reading
  • Meanwhile, the R&A have announced that the Open will be held at Royal Birkdale in 2017 and Carnoustie the following year.
  • Click here to continue reading

"This is the first time I have ever played in an event like this so I wasn't sure what would be a good score. I just decided to press and see what happened and it turned out very well."

Welshman Rhys Enoch also prevailed after winning a three-man play-off thanks to a 25-foot chip-in for birdie.

At Sunningdale, just two players finished under par as scoring proved far more difficult with Matthew Southgate and South Korea's former US Amateur champion Byeong Hun An going through at four- and three-under respectively.

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

They will be joined at Hoylake by Londoner Christopher Rodgers, who finished at one-over par. "It's a dream come true," he said.

Two-time European Tour winner Marc Warren topped the leaderboard at Gailes Links in Ayrshire.

Warren, who also won the World Cup of Golf alongside Colin Montgomerie in 2007, secured a second successive Open appearance thanks largely to a course-record 63 and an afternoon 64 saw him end on nine-under.

"It means a lot to get back into the Open," Warren said. "Last year was my first taste of it. But I was frustrated as I was close to making the cut and you want another shot at it."

Also qualified from Gailes Links are James McLeary, who will make his Open debut, as will Paul McKechnie, who beat Wales' Rhys Davies with a birdie at the first play-off hole after both finished at three-under par.

Meanwhile, at Hillside, factory worker John Singleton Challenge Tour players Chris Hanson and Oscar Floren qualified from a four-man play-off after Yorkshire amateur Nick Marsh couldn't match par at the second extra hole.

"It will be amazing to play in the Open," said Singleton, who hails from Birkenhead - just eight miles from Hoylake. "I expect I'll have a lot of support from my friends and family."

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