Four Earn British Open Berths Down Under


MELBOURNE, Australia. ' Peter Fowler, the oldest man in the field, added a solid round of 69 to his opening 70 at Kingston Heath to head the field in the Australasian leg of International Final Qualifying for the 2005 Open Championship.
The 45-year-old, who will be teeing up in his 10th Open since 1983, finished at 5-under par, two shots clear of Victorian David Diaz (69 72) while another local boy, Martin Doyle, grabbed the third berth with rounds of 73 and 71 against the par of 72.
Four players ' Nick Flanagan, Shannon Beck, Andrew Tschudin and Nathan Green ' tied on 145 and went into a sudden-death play-off for the remaining place. Flanagan, the 2003 U.S. Amateur champion, and Beck, not long out of his time as a trainee professional, birdied the first play-off hole to see off the other two.
They halved the second in bogeys and Beck could not get up and down from a greenside bunker at the third and lost to Flanagans par.
It was a remarkable performance from Flanagan, 21, who was seriously ill with gastroenteritis last week and has played little golf since Christmas. 'It was very nerve wracking and I am tired after it,' he said. 'I have not been in a situation as tense as that for a while. It left me quite weak and a couple of kilograms lighter.'
'Now that I have made it, I am quite excited. I played in the Open at Troon last year as a result of winning the U.S. amateur and this time it will be as a pro, which will be quite a different experience. I have seen the Old Course but have not played it. Ill have to find a way to do that.'
Although twice the age of some of his rivals, few were surprised at Fowlers performance, given his Vijay Singh-like commitment to practice, fitness and preparation for tournaments.
'It was the first event of the year so I had to get myself into gear,' said the man who won the Australian Open and the Australian Match Play championships on the course in the 1980s. 'I came here five days early to get ready. The club has been very good to me. I have been able to get on to the course and do my practice around the members. I wanted to do well here and it has worked. I was thinking of trying to qualify at Sunningdale but this has been a good lead-up to the Victorian Open starting tomorrow and the Heikenen Classic at Royal Melbourne next week.'