Kuala Lumpur, March 31: Asian Tour star Jyoti Randhawa of India booked his third appearance in The Open Championship today when he shared medallist honours with Australian duo Kim Felton and former club professional Scott Barr in the International Final Qualifying – Asia.
Randhawa, Asia’s number one in 2002, fired a four-under-par 68, the best score in the second round, for a total of five-under-par 139 at Saujana Golf and Country Club to secure his place alongside the world’s best golfers in July.
Barr, a teaching professional who came good in Asia last season, carded a 72 while Felton produced a 69 to earn starts in The Open Championship, which will staged at Royal Troon, Scotland from July 15-18.
Japan’s Yoshinobu Tsukada clinched the fourth and final available berth after prevailing in a four-way sudden-death play-off with a 15-foot birdie against compatriot Sushi Ishigaki and Jeev Milkha Singh of India.
Scotsman Simon Yates, who would have secured his place if not for a missed eight-foot birdie attempt at the last hole in regulation play, withdrew from the play-off, which was halted for an hour following a weather delay.
“It’s always a dream to play in the Open,” said Randhawa, who played at St Andrews in 2000 and Royal St George’s last year. “I didn’t hit it great over the last two days but I just hung in there and waited for something to happen.”
Randhawa, who shot an opening 71 on Tuesday, bogeyed the sixth hole but bounced back straight away with birdies on the seventh and treacherous eighth hole. Further birdies on 11 and 13 set him on the road to Royal Troon and he clinched his ticket by draining a 15-foot birdie at the 18th.
“I knew if I birdied the 18th to get to five under, I would make it,” said Randhawa, who has recorded top three outings on the European Tour this season. “The birdie on eight where I holed from 15 feet was the turning point. I had a good feel with that putt and from there onwards, I putted great.
“I’m more mature now and I’m looking forward to my third appearance in the Open,” said Randhawa, who will join compatriot Arjun Atwal at Royal Troon. Atwal earned his exemption into the world’s oldest Major after finishing as the Order of Merit winner in Asia last season.
The 31-year-old Barr was over the moon after recovering from a dismal front nine of 38. Just 12 months ago, the Aussie was clocking 10-hour days earning approximately US$20 for 30-minute lessons as a club professional in Singapore but in three months time, he’ll be teeing up in the world’s oldest Major.
“When I made the turn, one of the players said five under would be safe. I putted good all day but made nothing and then I got birdies on 14 and 17 and had to two-putt from 25 feet at the last to make sure of a par. It was a big relief.
“It’ll be great to play in the Open, that’s what it’s all about. One of my goals this year was to play in a Major and it’s nice to achieve that. It’s a big feeling obviously but it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Barr.
Like the rest of the field, Felton, who was in the last group out, had a two-hour wait before the start his second round following a tropical storm. “I played ‘Uno’ during the wait and lost all my games. And then I just played good when I got on the course. It’s just awesome,” said Felton, who was the low amateur in the 1998 Eisenhower Trophy.
Tsukada, playing on the Asian Tour this year after losing his full exempt in Japan, was in trouble off the tee in the play-off, which was held on the 10th hole, but he hit a great recovery from between some palm trees to the front of the green. He then drained the long putt to secure his maiden appearance in the Open Championship.
“I just listened to my caddie and he gave me the right line. As a youngster, I’ve watched players like Isao Aoki and Jumbo Ozaki playing in Majors and now I’ve qualified for the Open,” said Tsukada.
Round 2 results
139: Scott Barr (AUS) 67-72, Kim Felton (AUS) 70-69, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 71-68
140: Sushi Ishigaki (JPN) 67-73, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 71-69, Yoshinobu Tsukada (JPN) 69-71, Simon Yates (SCO) 66-74 (Yoshinobu Tsukada earned the fourth and final berth with a birdie on the first sudden-death extra hole)
141: David Gleeson (AUS) 72-69
142: Harmeet Kahlon (IND) 68-74
144: Amandeep Johl (IND) 71-73, Unho Park (AUS) 72-72, Lu Wei-lan (TPE) 73-71
145: Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 71-74, Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 73-72, Thammanoon Srirot (THA) 72-73, Yeh Wei-tze (TPE) 72-73
146: Marcus Both (AUS) 74-72, Pablo Del Olmo (MEX) 73-73, Alistair Presnell (AUS) 74-72
147: Jason Knutzon (USA) 73-74, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 72-75, 148: Edward Loar (USA) 77-71
149: Mike Cunning (USA) 72-77, Clay Devers (USA) 76-73, Greg Hanrahan (USA) 73-76
153: Lin Chie-hsiang (TPE) 73-80, Charlie Wi (KOR) 76-77
156: Stephen Lindskog (SWE) 78-78, Soushi Tajima (JPN) 78-78
RTD: Anthony Kang (USA) 71
NR: Craig Kamps (RSA) 76, Lin Wen-ko (TPE) 80, Danny Chia 76