Sam Bairstow and Barclay Brown are ready to live out their golfing dreams after booking spots in The 150th Open at St Andrews.
The Yorkshire duo – named in the England men’s squad for next week’s European Amateur Team Championships at Royal St George’s – proved their class in final qualifying for golf’s greatest championship.
Brown topped the leaderboard at Hollinwell with rounds of 68 and 72 for a total of four-under par.
Meanwhile, Bairstow’s love affair with St Annes Old continued.
Last year, Bairstow fired a course record en route to qualifying for the 149th Open at Royal St George’s.
This year he joined Marcus Armitage in joint top spot in qualifying with rounds of 69 and 67 for a total of eight-under par.
Qualifying for any Open Championship is extra special for any amateur.
To reach this year’s championship and get to peg it up at the Home of Golf is something that has both golfers – products of the England Golf player pathway – licking their lips in anticipation.
Brown (pictured below) admitted: “Playing in The Open is going to be amazing. I knew that I was playing for a place in The Open but I didn’t really think about it as I played.
“I’m thinking about it now and it will be pretty cool!
“I played the Old Course when I was about 10 years old with my mum and dad but I’ve never played a competitive round there, so to think my first will be in The Open is pretty cool.
“I’ve been to a few Opens as a spectator, and my first was at St Andrews in 2010 with my parents. I can’t remember too much about it but I’m sure I’ll remember this year’s championship.”
Brown has only just returned to England after completing his college year at Stanford University in California.
The Walker Cup golfer has taken a few weeks to re-acclimatise but was back to his best at Hollinwell.
He added: “It was dry and hard and bouncy and the wind made it a real test. Fortunately, I’ve played a lot of this style of golf because it’s so different from what I’ve played the last three years at Stanford.”
Brown is the latest member from Hallamshire to make headlines in the golfing world. Last week another of the club’s famous sons, Matt Fitzpatrick, walked off with the US Open Championship trophy!
And Fitzpatrick – a mate of Brown’s – was quick to get in touch.
Brown explained: “Matt texted me about half an hour ago to say congratulations, which was really nice of him.
“Watching him win the US Open was unbelievable and hopefully I can get in some practice rounds with him at St Andrews.”
For Bairstow, qualifying was particularly sweet after the recent heartbreak at The Amateur Championship.
Bairstow missed out on a place at The 150th Open last week when finishing runner up to South Africa’s Aldrick Potgieter just a few miles down the road at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
That was a prize on offer along with slots at the 2023 US Open and Masters.
And he was spurred on by that near miss when given a second bite at the cherry in final qualifying.
“I think missing out on The Open was probably the one that hurt most so to qualify is very special,” confirmed Bairstow (pictured above).
“I know this golf course well and I just tried to play well around it again really and see what happened!”
Bairstow is no stranger to golf in St Andrews and is hoping his form on the Old Course doesn’t desert him when he tees it up on 14 July in front of massive galleries.
“I’ve played the Links Trophy three times at the Old Course,” added Bairstow.
“I don’t want to jinx it but I’ve never shot over par there. On the other courses I have so I’m glad The Open’s not on the Jubilee!
“I like the Old Course, St Andrews is a great town and it’s going to be a great week.
“It felt like there was a lot of people at Royal St George’s so I can’t imagine what 290,000 spectators over a week at St Andrews is going to feel like.
“I’m sure that first tee will be a very special moment on the Thursday.
“My first memory of The Open was probably Rory McIlroy winning at Hoylake in 2014. I I went with my grandma, so I’ll have to see if I can get her a ticket back up to St Andrews!”
Photography credit: R&A/Leaderboard