No sweet 16th for Grant Forrest in Open qualifying

Grant Forrest
Grant Forrest
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Grant Forrest must hate the 16th hole at Gailes Links after it cost him a second Open Championship appearance at Royal Birkdale in a fortnight’s time.

The Craigielaw star dropped five shots there as he missed out on a play-off by just two strokes at the Ayrshire venue for the last of three spots in one of five final qualifiers.

Forrest, who played in golf’s oldest major at Muirfield as an amateur in 2013, ran up a 7 in the morning before taking a 6 in the second round.

“My 7 was from in the middle of the fairway while I then slipped on the tee in the afternoon and went out of bounds,” he said after carding rounds of 73 and 69 for a level-par total.

“It’s a bummer as I drove the ball brilliantly all day apart from that, giving myself lots of chances.”

It was a rare disappointment for Forrest this season, having already marked his first full season in the paid ranks with two top-five finishes on the Challenge Tour, where his next 
assignment is in Sardinia next week.

The three spots up for grabs at Gailes Links went to Scottish amateur Connor Syme, American Julian Suri and Australian Ryan McCarthy, who won a four-man play-off at the first extra hole for the final berth.

Syme and Suri tied for top spot on four-under, with the former carding a best-of-the-day 67 in the second round to secure his Birkdale berth.

“It is amazing to be in The Open and I was thinking about that out there even though I was trying to stay in the moment,” said the 21-year-old Fifer, who had former Lothianburn and Turnhouse member Tim Poyser on his bag.

“The first Open my dad (PGA pro Stuart) took me to was at Troon in ‘04 and I was buzzing after getting Phil Mickelson’s ball at St Andrews in ‘05.”

Edinburgh man Neil Fenwick was next best after Forrest among the Lothians hopefuls, sitting handily placed after an opening 71 before slipping out of contention following a second-round 74.

Others to miss out included Gareth Wright (74-74), James Ross (77-77) and Paul McKechnie (80-76).