Golf: Andrew Oldcorn wins in Open qualifier

Andrew Oldcorn won the qualifier by a shot with a three-under par 68. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Andrew Oldcorn won the qualifier by a shot with a three-under par 68. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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ANDREW OLDCORN is on course to write another chapter in a glittering career – an Open Championship appearance on his own doorstep at the age of 53.

The Capital star turned back the clock to beat a field mainly consisting of players half his age in yesterday’s regional qualifier at Bruntsfield Links.

It earned him a spot in next Tuesday’s local final qualifiers in East Lothian, where the hopefuls will also include eight-time European No.1 
Colin Montgomerie.

And, though admitting he faces a tall order in the two-round shoot-outs for a handful of spots, Oldcorn is excited to be in with a chance of finding himself back playing in The Open for the first time in eight years.

“If I could make one more appearance, especially so close to home, it would mean the world to me,” admitted the former PGA champion.

On a day when the Davidson’s Mains course proved a stern test for more than 100 players, Oldcorn carded a three-under-par 68 to win by a shot from Ian Redford Jnr.

“I hadn’t played for a week and it showed at the start,” added the former Walker Cup player who is on the European Senior Tour these days.

“I was rusty for the first seven or eight holes and hit two or three really poor shots but managed to get up and down on each occasion to retrieve the situation. Once I settled down and found some rhythm, I played nicely and could probably have been two or three shots lower though, after the start, a 68 was about right in the end.”

The three-time European Tour winner has made 16 Open appearances but last played in the world’s oldest major at 
St Andrews in 2005.

“To be honest, playing in The Open is way past me now,” 
admitted the Kings Acre ace. “But, when it’s on your own doorstep, you’ve got to give it a go. The odds are still stacked against me making it to Muirfield, firstly due to so few spots being up for grabs next week and also playing two rounds in the one day is going to be hard.

“It’s a shot to nothing for me and it would be awesome to play in one more Open, especially at Muirfield of all places.

“But, if I see the weather forecast is going to be really bad next Tuesday, I might not play and give an alternative a chance instead.

“There’s a Seniors Tour event in Switzerland at the end of next week and that’s my bread and butter these days.”

Three-other Lothians players secured spots from the 15 on offer at Bruntsfield while two others passed the test at Northumberland Golf Club on the outskirts of Newcastle.

Alan Tait, the director of golf at Dalmahoy, tied for third in the Capital with a 70, which included bogeys at the first and last.

“I was only 110 yards from the green with my drive at the 18th but was in a divot mark and hit a horrible second shot to take 5,” said a relieved Tait.

The 43-year-old added: “I only play three times per month these days but I live in South Queensferry and, with The Open at Muirfield, I decided to give it a go on my day off.

“My first choice for the final qualifiers would be Dunbar as that’s where I won the Scottish Boys in 1986, so it would be a nostalgic trip back.”

Another winner of that title, Musselburgh man Lee Harper, survived a 13-strong play-off for the last seven spots to keep his Open dream alive, as did Craigielaw’s David Laing.

Harper, who has been based in Bangkok for the last 15 months but is still attached to Archerfield Links, birdied the last to earn his place in the shoot-out.

He’s now keeping his fingers crossed that he’ll play in the next stage at Monktonhall, where he cut his golfing teeth.

Laing, who lives just outside Portobello and is qualified PGA pro, bounced back from a double-bogey at the second to post his 71.

And, if the 25-year-old can also survive the next stage, he’ll be making a quick return to Muirfield, having enjoyed his first game there just last week.

To the disappointment of the Bruntsfield Links members, main host club hope Alan Anderson missed out in the play-off, as did Calum Smith (Royal Musselburgh) and Linlithgow’s Ed Shannly.

But there was joy south of the Border for Paul McKechnie as the man attached to the Braid Hills Golf Centre won at Northumberland, where Archerfield ace Zack Saltman also progressed.

At Sunningdale, in the last of five international qualifiers for this year’s event, Stephen Gallacher pulled out after an opening 73.