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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Left on the Open scrap heap

By Jamie Elson
European Tour rookie

The quality of the names who won't be at Royal Troon this year has turned the Open qualifying scrap heap into a bit of a graveyard.

Jamie Elson
Elson joined many famous names who failed to qualify for Troon

The change in format meant that the European Qualifying at Sunningdale was more like a full-blown Tour event.

As soon as I saw the likes of Monty, Parnevik, Woosie and Justin Rose on the driving range I knew I was in for a tough time.

Most thought that a score of 10 under par would do but you probably heard that the top 12 to qualify turned into a top 17 because of the strength of the field.

I can't believe that only 68 players out of 120 turned up for qualifying in the US - maybe they just consider their Open to be better. Who knows?

Anyway, back here it felt like a shoot-out, and when it got down to the play-offs it was just a case of birdie or bust.

It was a harsh experience but that's the way it works now.

Old fashioned

I forgot how formal things can be when you're involved in something organised by the R&A.

When I handed my card in at the end it felt like I was being taken in for questioning by the police.

But the way the R&A is run is so professional and obviously they've got to set the standard.

One thing I wish they would do is set the record straight with regard to the rumours flying around about long-handled putters.

I've been using a belly putter this season but I've gone back to the short-handled one partly because I don't know what we'll be able to use in the future.

Gary Evans
Gary Evans finished tied 10th at last year's Open

If the R&A was more open, and let us know what they were thinking, a lot of the players would be happier.

Some could argue a case for them being a bit old fashioned sometimes, but I think they need to call the shots a bit earlier.

Saying that, my decision to go back to the short-handled putter is down to my confidence as much as anything.

When you get a new club it tends to give you a boost and you get excited when you pull the club out of the bag.

But once that goes away sometimes it's better to go back to your roots and to what you know best.

Anyway, you'll find that the best putters in the world, like Mr Goosen, use the short putters.

Although Troon might well suit an Open specialist, I think if the wind stays down someone like Retief will come out on top.

But it would be extraordinary if he won two consecutive majors.

If you're going to push me on a British tip I'd pick Mark Roe if he qualifies or someone like Gary Evans.

I like seeing the specialist links shots you have to play at the Open and I think Mark or Gary have the game to surprise a few people.

Whatever happens I'll be watching it all on the TV especially at the Postage Stamp.

If I was going to design a course I'd throw in something like that. With that cross wind it should make essential viewing.

  • Jamie will be filing monthly insights for the BBC Sport website on life as a rookie on the European Tour.

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