STONEHAM’S Ryan Moody is through to Final Open Qualifying after finishing tied in fourth place at The Buckinghamshire in Regional Qualifying on Monday.
The runner-up in last year’s Hampshire Order of Merit who reached the semi-finals of the county championship for a second year running last month, shot a fine 71 to post one-under.
There were 10 spots up for grabs in the race for one of just 12 spots in the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews via Final Qualifying next month, when America’s Collin Morikawa will defend the Claret Jug he won at Royal St Georges in 2021.
But Moody had to survive a nerve-wracking play-off with eight other players for the seven places in the Final Qualifying field. The Eastleigh-based amateur, who has been a member of the Hampshire first-team for the past four years – after spending a short spell on the mini-tours in 2015/16 – beat more than 100 club professionals and leading amateurs to finish inside the top 10.
Now the golfer, who currently works by day in the city docks, can begin planning his trip to Final Qualifying where there will be just three spots at each of the four venues, for a shot at fulfilling a St Andrews dream – playing in the 150th Open at the Home of Golf alongside the world’s best golfers.
Moody, who plans turn pro for the second time in his career later this year after accepting a PGA job at Bramshaw in the New Forest, got to the turn in level-par. He bounced back from a bogey at the eighth with an excellent two at the par-three ninth.
Ryan gave up a shot again with a five at the 10th but took it straight back with a birdie four at the par-five 11th. His second two of the day at the 14th got him to one-under before parring his way in.
Ryan was one of nine players to post nine-under, with former England A squad player Pavan Sagoo, heading the leaderboard on five-under, thanks to a brilliant 67.
Former Amateur Champions miss out on second Open chance
FORMER Meon Valley G&CC junior Harry Ellis was the last Hampshire amateur to play in the Open back in 2017. The Walker Cup ace, who played Morikawa twice when Great Britain and Ireland faced the USA in Los Angeles five years ago, was also in the field at The Buckinghamshire, a regular venue on the Ladies European Tour, which has its HQ there.
But Ellis, who was exempt for the Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017 courtesy of his Amateur Championship win at Royal St George’s a month earlier, could only finish in a share of 48th after carding a 77.
It was a day of very fine margins as 142 players qualified at the 15 qualifiers held in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
For former Hampshire junior Finbar Kane, it was a case of so close but so far, after also shooting 71 at The Buckinghamshire. But Kane, who became a PGA assistant at Barton-on-Sea three years ago, was one of the two unlucky players who lost out in the play-off.
He is now the 25th reserve for Final Qualifying and will be sweating on a lot of withdrawals to get a shot at making it to St Andrews.
The 150th anniversary of the first Open being held at Prestwick in 1860, drew a much bigger field for the first stage in qualifying. Eleven amateurs from Hampshire tried their luck, travelling as far as Alwoodley, in Yorkshire, while others teed it up at Burhill, in Surrey, and Moor Park, near Watford.
Hayling’s Toby Burden, who beat Moody to that Order of Merit crown in September, travelled to Frilford Heath, near Oxford, where he won the English Champion of Champions title in 2019.
Mixed fortunes for Lee-on-the-Solent players
The former EuroPro Tour player had also played well at Frilford in a number of mini-tour events but he finished well down in 35th place after a two-over par 74. The qualifying score was one-under with four players playing-off for one place.
Burden has been Hampshire’s most consistent amteur over the last four years, having regained his amateur status in 2016 after six years as a pro. But he finished five shots better than Sam Hutsby, the former Walker Cup player and Great Britain and Ireland international, from Lee-on-the-Solent, who has been dominating events on the PGA club pro’s circuit for the past year.
The club’s former Hampshire Junior Champion Aman Uddin had a day to forget at Moor Park, shooting 86. But two other Lee pro’s did make it through. Lewis Scott, who played for Hampshire Colts before turning pro two years ago, after completing a golf scholarship in the States, qualified at Burhill.
Scott, who currently leads the Hampshire PGA Order of Merit and the Trainees Order of Merit, after winning the Hampshire PGA Strokeplay Championship two weeks ago, finished tied third at the Surrey club, where Ryder Cup star Paul Casey is a member.
A level-par 72 on the New Course, which Casey opened in 2001, was enough to progress to Final Qualifying, which takes place at Fairmont St Andrews, Holinwell, Prince’s and St Anne’s Old Links on June 28.
Ellis’ Walker Cup and Hampshire team-mate Scott Gregory (Corhampton), who played in the 2016 Open at Royal Troon, after winning the Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl, could only finish 25th at Burhilll, after a 76, while Rowlands Castle’s Billy McKenzie, the former Spanish Amateur Champion, finished tied for 25th after a level-par 72 at Minchinhampton, where Hampshire lost in the English County Finals in 2013.
Meanwhile PGA South stalwart James Ablett fired an excellent three-under par 69 on Moor Park’s famous High Course to take one of the last two places.
No joy for Jersey’s Jo Hacker
Jersey’s Jo Hacker, who won the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship in 2021, travelled to Alwoodley, but could only finish 20th, thanks to a three-over par 74.
Last week Hacker, a member at La Moye, looked to be set to make the top 64 qualifiers at The Amateur Championship, playing the second qualifying round at Royal Lytham. But quadruple bogey nine in his second round derailed his bid to emulate Ellis and Gregory, as the only two Hampshire Golf representatives to win the oldest amateur title in the world.
Hacker is another of Hampshire’s string of players currently on a golf scholarship in the USA. He will return to Florida’s Jacksonville University later this summer where he plays for the Dolphins at Ponte Vedra, which is also the home of the PGA Tour and The Players’ Championship.
Ryan Harmer, who played in Hampshire’s English County Championship winning team in 2017, finished in a share of 14th place after carding a 72 at Frilford. The Isle of Wight born pro, recently moved from Brokenhurst Manor to Mannings Heath, in Sussex.
OTHER AMATEUR SCORES:
Open Championship Regional Qualifying
Frilford Heath: T68 James Atkins (North Hants) 75; T86 Joe Green (Shanklin & Sandown) 79; Tom Hobbs (Stoneham) 79;
The Buckinghamshire: T86 Anthony Hobbs (Stoneham) 82.
Moor Park: T17 Jamie Mullin (Hartley Wintney) 72; T63 Robert Wheeler (North Hants) 78; Aman Uddin (Lee-on-the-Solent) 86.
Alwoodley: T53 Chris Hayward (Osborne) 78.