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Peter Senior, Kurt Barnes, Ewan Porter
At 50 years of age, Peter Senior (left) will be making his 18th start in the Open Championship. (Getty Images)

Champions Tour rookie Senior among three to make it through Australasian qualifier

Peter Senior, an Australian veteran who recently graduated from Champions Tour Q-School, will make his 18th Open appearance in July, as he grabbed one of three spots available the two-day Melbourne showdown.

MELBOURNE, Australia (PGA.com) -- Kurt Barnes, Ewan Porter and Peter Senior qualified for the 2010 Open Championship Friday after taking the top three positions at Australasian edition of International Final Qualifying (IFQ). The trio now will take their places on July 15-18 July at St. Andrews.

Barnes seized his opportunity with a second-round 8-under-par 64 to finish at the top of the leaderboard on 10 under, two shots ahead of overnight leader Ewan Porter (68). Senior (70) took the third qualifying place on 5 under par in the two-day, 36-hole qualifier that featured a field of 44 players.

The 50-year-old Senior -- who soon will make his debut on the Champions Tour after winning that circuit's Q-School late last year -- will make his 18th appearance at the Open a decade after his last appearance at St. Andrews in 2000. At 6 under with just a hole to play, he bogeyed the 18th and endured a nervous wait to find out whether he had earned one of the three available berths.

"It feels fantastic. I thought I had blown it coming down the last couple of holes but the score hung on and I am really excited about going there," said Senior. "St. Andrews is such a special place, the atmosphere is just fantastic and I am really going to enjoy this one."

It will be Senior's fifth St. Andrews Open, having previously played in 2000, 1995, 1990 and 1984. His best result at the Home of Golf was a 14th place in '84, whilst his best finish at the Open, fourth, came at Royal St. Georges in 1993.

In contrast to Senior, the 2010 Open will be Barnes' first appearance at a major. He shot a superb 8-under 64 in Friday's final round to finish two clear of the field.

Starting the day two strokes off the lead in fourth, he completed the front nine in 31 strokes with birdies coming at the second, third, fourth, seventh and ninth. He then built on that start with another four coming home.

"Today was pretty solid; only the one bogey, but I am really happy," said Barnes, winner of the Sofitel Zhongshan IGC Open in Nanjing last year. "I reckon today is one of the best ball striking displays ever.

"I hit it well, I pitched it well and I also putted well, so my all round game was really good. It's one of the best rounds of golf I have ever played," he added. "Just thinking about going to St. Andrews is awesome. I have only played there once at the Dunhill Championship so I am really excited."

Two rounds of 68 saw Porter qualify for the third time in three starts at IFQ-Australasia. Two other successful campaigns came at his home club of The Lakes in 2007 and 2008.

"I'm just over the moon," said the 2008 Moonah Classic champion. "I said to my caddie Grant on the last hole that this feels better than the previous two attempts -- just the fact that it's St. Andrews this time."

"I guess I have been through so many tough times over the last couple of years but the belief and the hard work I have been doing is bearing fruit right now and I hope that this is just the kick-start to a big 2010 for me."

This was the first of five IFQ events, which are held on five continents to give more players from around the world the chance to gain direct entry into golf's oldest championship. The other IFQ events are set for South Africa on Jan. 20 and 21, and later in the year in Asia; in Plano, Texas; and Sunningdale, England.
 

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