GULLANE, Scotland -- Colin Montgomerie has failed to earn a place at the British Open after traveling more than 3,500 miles from the United States to take part in Local Final Qualifying on Tuesday.
Montgomerie drove from Pittsburgh, where he finished ninth on Sunday in the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship on the Champions Tour, to Newark Airport in New Jersey, and took then a flight home to Scotland, arriving Monday.
After a few hours' rest, he teed up Tuesday at the Gullane No. 1 course east of Edinburgh in the hope of securing a spot in golf's oldest major, which starts July 18 at nearby Muirfield.
Montgomerie was tied second after the opening with a 69 in the morning, but then got caught up in the slow pace of play to shoot 76 in wet afternoon conditions.
In all, 12 players made the field – three each at the four qualifying sites around Scotland.
Steven Tiley, who made a name for himself at St. Andrews three years ago, will be back in the Open after he dominated the rest of the field in his 36-hole qualifier at The Musselburgh, handing in scores of 64 and 69 to win by three over Lloyd Saltman and Tyrrell Hatton on 9 under par.
Kent, from England, was in a tie for third place after his opening 66 at the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews, although the round was overshadowed by Rory McIlroy’s major championship record-tying 63 the same day.
“I have never played Muirfield, so it’s nice to know that I’m into the Open and for me it’s easily the best championship in the world,” said Tiley, who also appeared in the event in 2004 and last year. “I have grown up playing links golf and it was just good to give myself a great chance with that 64 this morning.
“Then this afternoon I started with birdies at the first two holes. I did drop a few shots, but really I did nothing too silly and it was all just a matter of staying alive. I’m competing in a Challenge Tour event in Switzerland next week and it’s going to be nice knowing my next event after that will be The Open.”
Followed by large crowds throughout, Montgomerie was leading at 5-under after 12 holes, but had to be content with his opening 69, which was still good enough for a share of third spot. But he could only follow it up with a 76 to miss by four strokes.
“I threw it away — never mind,” he said. “It’s not my schedule. I just played badly this afternoon. I didn’t get going at all. It’s very disappointing after being 5 under.”
Mark James, the other former Ryder Cup captain in the field and now only three months from his 60th birthday, was also competing at Gullane No. 1, but with rounds of 72 and 76 he finished 6 over par, seven shots too many.
Saltman was leading amateur at St. Andrews in 2005 and his back-to-back rounds of 68 ensured him another start in the championship, but his brothers Elliot and Zack failed to make it through at Dunbar and Gullane, respectively. Saltman shared second place with fellow Challenge Tour player Hatton, who qualified as an amateur three years ago.
Former Ryder Cup players Jarmo Sandelin, Paul Broadhurst and Peter Baker didn’t survive, either, and others to bow out included 2001 British PGA champion Andrew Oldcorn, now 53, and 49-year-old American Scott Dunlap.
At Dunbar, local player Grant Forrest shot 67 and 65 for an 8 under par aggregate and was joined in the Open field by India’s Shiv Kapur and Australian John Wade, who finished a stroke behind. Now the 20-year-old Forrest, from Craigielaw, can look forward to his first Open.
“I played very solid,” said Forrest, who has just finished his first year at the University of San Diego and will be representing his country in next week’s European Team Championship in Denmark. “I think I had four or five putts lip out of the hole, but I did have a huge piece of luck at the 17th where I chunked a chip. It hit the concrete path over the burn, but bounced into a bunker and I got up and down from there.
“I would have to admit that I was getting nervous by that point, but I managed to birdie the last, which was a bit of a relief. I still can’t believe I have made it to Muirfield. It was my first attempt at qualifying, so I didn’t really know what to expect — it’s a great feeling to get through.”
Wade is a club professional based at the Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne and elected to take a holiday to play.
“This is a dream come true,” said the 45-year-old. “I love it in this part of the world, so thought I would come over and try to qualify. I played the Open once before at St. Andrews in 2005, but missed the cut by miles. It was a great experience, though – it was Jack Nicklaus’s last Open and the atmosphere was incredible.”
There were also amateur winners at Gullane and North Berwick. At Gullane, former England international Ben Stow, from Salisbury, had rounds of 72 and 68 for a 2 under par total that pushed Sheffield’s 18-year-old Matthew Fitzpatrick, last year’s Boys’ Amateur champion, and Sweden’s Oscar Floren, who excelled at Texas Tech University before making the European Tour, into second place.
Devon’s Jimmy Mullen finished at the head of affairs at North Berwick, a closing birdie for a second successive 68 putting him at 6 under par and sending professionals David Higgins, Gareth Wright and George Murray into a play off for the last two spots. But the playoff ended disastrously for Higgins at the first hole when he discovered he had 15 clubs in his bag and was penalized two shots. Wright made a 10-foot birdie putt there and Murray joined him with a par.