Twelve earn Open berths; Monty comes up short


The number of spots still available in the season's third major championship dwindled significantly Tuesday, as 12 players punched their tickets to Muirfield at four different 36-hole local qualifying sites in Scotland.

A member of the Kentucky golf team, amateur Ben Stow was medalist at Gullane, carding rounds of 72 and 68 to finish the day at 2-under 140. Sweden's Oscar Floren and Matthew Fitzpatrick, an amateur from England, grabbed the final two qualifying spots, each finishing one shot behind Stow. After playing his way into contention with a 2-under 69 in the morning wave, Colin Montgomerie faded to an afternoon 76 and missed qualifying by four shots.

The qualifier at Dunbar saw another amateur top the field, as England's Grant Forrest led the way with rounds of 67 and 65. Forrest, who plays collegiately at the University of San Diego, finished one shot ahead of India's Shiv Kapur and Australia's John Wade, who will also be heading to Muirfield in two weeks.

A third amateur medalist emerged at North Berwick, where England's Jimmy Mullen paced the field with a pair of 68s. A 3-for-2 playoff was needed to determine the final qualifiers from the group at 5-under 137, with George Murray and Gareth Wright outlasting David Higgins to advance.

The fourth and final qualifier was held at The Musselburgh, where Steven Tiley of England easily advanced, finishing three shots clear of the field after rounds of 64 and 69. The final two spots went to Lloyd Saltman and Tyrrell Hatton, who both completed 36 holes at 6-under 136.

With the qualification process now complete, the options still remaining to earn a spot into the field are slim. The top five players not otherwise exempt from inside the top 20 of both the FedEx Cup points list and Race to Dubai standings after this week will get tee times at Muirfield, as will the winners of both the John Deere Classic and Scottish Open next week.