English amateur trio qualify for The Open

Ben Taylor

England internationals Paul Kinnear and Ben Taylor and Somerset’s Alister Balcombe are among five amateurs who claimed places in The Open at St Andrews in yesterday’s final qualifying.

They are joined by two other amateurs, Irishman Paul Dunne, who won the event at Woburn, and American Jordan Niebrugge.

Taylor (pictured top, image © Leaderboard Photography) and Balcombe shared top spot at Royal Cinque Ports in Kent with professional Gary Boyd after they all scored five-under par over 36 holes.

Meanwhile, Kinnear came through at Gailes Links and was emotional after joining professionals Mark Young and New Zealander Ryan Fox.

The 20-year old from Formby said afterwards: “I was shaking over my three-foot birdie putt (at the last). It was awful waiting around to see if I was going to get into a play-off and I think that’s why all the emotions have come flooding out.” Kinnear was the leading Englishman at last week’s Brabazon Trophy, supported by Your Golf Travel, where he tied third.

Taylor, 23 and a plus-five handicapper from Walton Heath, has just finished his studies at Louisiana State University and also had a top ten finish at the Brabazon. He birdied three of his last seven holes for a 67.

“I putted out really well from six feet and that’s so important down the stretch when you are trying to qualify for The Open. I knew that putt at the last was to go five-under and made myself hole it.

“I’ve just finished college and I might go to qualifying in America at the end of the year but this summer is about trying to make the Walker Cup at Lytham and making The Open at St Andrews as an amateur is a dream.”

Balcombe, a 19-year-old from Clevedon with a plus-three handicap, said: “I was in the clubhouse at Clevedon just before the Regional Qualifier (last week) and saw a picture of the 18th at St Andrews.

“I thought how great it would be to be a part of that. I’ve never played the Old Course, so I’m looking forward to the experience.”

For scoring and more information visit TheOpen.com