Dubliner David Carey walked the Old Course for the first time in his life on Monday evening – and then booked his spot in the 150th Open at St Andrews.
The 26-year-old holed a 50-foot putt on his final hole at Fairmont St Andrews to secure his place at the historic championship in July.
Carey is one of 16 players who made it over the final hurdle for Final Qualifying on Tuesday. He led the four qualifiers by four shots over 36 holes on a dreich day at the course overlooking the Auld Grey Toun.
No Scots through from Final Qualifying
It's getting tense in Final Qualifying, as the battle for 16 spots in The 150th Open continues🏆
— The Open (@TheOpen) June 28, 2022
None of 27 Scots in Final Qualifying across the four venues were able to make the championship.
Dunbar’s Daniel Kay got closest at St Anne’s Old Links, but lost out in a play-off to John Parry after finishing at six-under for 36 holes.
Carey, an ALPS Tour regular, was making only his second attempt to qualify for the Open, drawn by the historic nature of this year’s championship.
“I’m big on my golf history,” he said. “I went to the Old Course yesterday and walked around the first, second, 17th and 18th. Maybe that was the extra inspiration for me.
“That was the first time I’d even seen it. It is so cool to be able to walk it and see the stands and just look at everything.”
He would have been safely in the championship anyway after rounds of 68 and 69. But that monster final putt dropping meant he knew himself for sure.
“I always take the flag out but, on this occasion, I decided to leave it in, just in case it helped,” he said. “The ball barely got there before dropping in. That was a good bonus to finish.
“I think it was more a feeling of relief than a celebration as I knew that it was job done.”
Scots-born Dinwiddie makes third Open
Robert Dinwiddie, Dumfries-born but representing England, also came through with rounds of 71 and 70. The 39-year-old also played in the 2015 Open at St Andrews, and in 2017.
“Every one is special,” he said of playing in the Open. “But this is obviously a very special championship.”
Dinwiddie drove all the way from his home in London to play. He arrived on Monday night without the chance for a practice round.
“It was a tough, long day. If you’d given me three-under at the start I wouldn’t think it would have made it, but obviously I’m delighted I did,” he said.
2020 Scottish Open champion Aaron Rai, now a PGA Tour regular, was squeezed out at Fairmont. He was the odd man out in a play-off for the final two places with Dutchman Lars Van Meijel and Alex Wrigley of Hartlepool.
The best Scots finishers at Fairmont were amateur Calum Scott of Nairn and Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil. They both finished two shots out of the play-off at level par.
After Tuesday’s qualifying there are just ten places left at St Andrews from high finishes at four remaining events. There are three places each this week at the Irish Open and the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic.
There are three more spots from high finishes at next week’s Genesis Scottish Open. There’s a final spot for a top five finish at the co-sanctioned Barbasol Championship.
Injury ends Sandy Lyle’s final bid
The Champion Golfer of 1985, Sandy Lyle, has begun his opening round in Final Qualifying 🏆
— The Open (@TheOpen) June 28, 2022
Sadly, Sandy Lyle’s bid to play one more time in the Open Championship ended when the 64-year-old’s body wouldn’t play ball.
The 1985 champion’s automatic exemption ran out at age 60 in 2018. He was trying to get back for one last shot at the 150th Open at St Anne’s Old Links.
However playing through a hamstring problem, Lyle was forced to withdraw after his first round.