British Open ends international 36-hole qualifying

By Doug FergusonOctober 28, 2013, 1:20 pm

SHANGHAI – The British Open is moving away from 36-hole qualifying, instead using 10 tour events from five continents to determine 32 spots in the field.

The only 36-hole qualifying that remains for golf's oldest championship will be 12 spots available from four links courses just before the British Open. They will become permanent sites. Players who fail to get in the British Open off their own tour can enter those final qualifying sites.

Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said Monday the reasons for the change include building more interest in the weeks leading up to the British Open to give players a more rigorous test over 72 holes at a tour event instead of 36 holes of qualifying.

The new system will be called the ''Open Qualifying Series,'' and it starts next month at the Australian Open.

On the PGA Tour, instead of the 36-hole qualifier outside Dallas that offered eight spots, the British Open will take the leading four players not already eligible from the top 12 and ties at the AT&T National and The Greenbrier Classic. One spot will be available from the John Deere Classic, a week before the Open.

On the European Tour, the 36-hole qualifier at Sunningdale will be replaced by offering three sports at The Irish Open, the French Open and the Scottish Open. Dawson said the configuration was different for the American tour – four spots at two events, one at the John Deere – to avoid the scramble of getting to Britain at the last minute.

Three spots will be available in Australia and South Africa, and four will be offered at the Mizuno Open in Japan and in Thailand on the Asian Tour.

The British Open is July 17-20 at Royal Liverpool in England.

''There were not in any way problems with the qualifiers. They weren't the cheapest to stage,'' Dawson said. ''We just felt we weren't getting in the media the buildup in the Open. And the fact these events are on television, and there's going to be an Open qualifying leaderboard, we think it will give the Open more anticipation.''

The U.S. qualifier near Dallas had been held in May for the convenience of players, nearly two months before the Open.

Dawson said the golf schedules around the world were getting more crowded, another reason why he felt it made sense to blend in tour events with qualifying.

Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Lee Chang-woo and runner-up Shohei Hasegawa earned a spot in final qualifying for the British Open. They will take part in the Open Qualifying Series in Thailand.

International Final Qualifying began in 2004, offering 36-hole qualifiers in America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Previously, the Local Final Qualifying was held on four courses near where the British Open was being playing that year. Starting next year, the R&A selected four permanent sites in various regions of the country to help with travel – Glasgow-Gailes Links in Scotland, Hillside in northwest of England, Woburn in central England and Royal Cinque Ports on the eastern coast of England.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.