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Bradley Hughes of Australia plays a shot off the fairway on day two of final International Qualifying for the Open Championships, at Kingston Heath Golf Course February 01, 2006 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)
Bradley Hughes of Australia plays a shot off the fairway on day two of final International Qualifying for the Open Championships, at Kingston Heath Golf Course February 01, 2006 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)

Campbell returns to St. Andrews a major winner

MELBOURNE, Australia (PA) -- Australians Michael Wright, Bradley Hughes, Ben Bunny and Adam Bland earned places in the 2006 British Open Wednesday by finishing in the top four spots in a two-day 36-hole international qualifier at Kingston Heath. A total of 53 players competed for the four spots at Royal Liverpool in July.

Wright won by three shots with rounds of 69 and 66 for a 9-under-par total of 135, with Hughes and Bunny sharing second spot. Bland chipped dead on the par-5 last for a birdie that knocked out four players waiting in the clubhouse on 4-under.

First-round leader Nick Flanagan, the 2004 U.S. amateur champion, had been three clear after an opening 66, but crashed to a 75.

"I had no idea what everyone else was doing," Bland said. "But I had an inkling that 5-under would be around the mark."

Wright, 32, is a two-time winner on the Von Nida secondary tour in Australasia, the Down Under equivalent of the Nationwide Tour, and one of his victories came in the New South Wales Open at Liverpool west of Sydney.

"I'm aiming to make it a double," he said. "I've won at Liverpool in Australia and now I'll try to do it at Royal Liverpool in Britain."

He, the 23-year-old Bland and the 27-year-old Bunny will be making their British Open debuts, while Hughes will be playing for the fourth time. Hughes, 38, with considerable experience in tours around the world, made his last British Open appearance at Carnoustie in 1999 and has played in four Opens over his career.

"This is a welcome change of fortune for me," he said. "I had a lot of personal stuff happening last year and that's all behind me now. "I'll base myself in South Carolina and start trying to rebuild my career in the U.S. But knowing I'm already in the Open helps me to plan ahead."

"Being able to [try to qualify] here is a great initiative by the [Royal & Ancient Golf Club]," said Bland, who led the Von Nida Tour money list last year but noted that he wouldn't have been able to afford to go to England to try to qualify. "I can now plan my year around it and start practicing hard for the next six months."

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