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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 June, 2005, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Europeans fight for US Open spots
By Rob Hodgetts

Nick Dougherty
I'd like to play in at least two majors this year and I would really love to be able to play in the US Open
England's Nick Dougherty
Heather is usually a lucky charm but it could spell misfortune for anyone trying to qualify for the US Open at Surrey's Walton Heath on Monday.

About 60 European Tour hopefuls will battle it out over 36 holes for nine places at Pinehurst in two weeks' time.

But the two inland links-style Walton Heath layouts will punish anyone straying off the beaten track.

"The wild hitter stands no chance. The key is to avoid the heather," said Walton Heath pro Ken Macpherson.

"Anyone visiting it more than two or three times simply won't qualify. You can't escape more than 50 yards. It's all about accuracy."

England's Brian Davis, 73rd in the world, is the highest-ranked player in the first-ever US Open qualifying event in Europe.

Recent Tour winners Nick Dougherty and Steve Webster will also line up alongside 1999 Open winner Paul Lawrie, the last European to win a major.

It always plays shorter than the scorecard suggests
Walton Heath professional Ken Macpherson

Colin Montgomerie avoided the agony of trying to qualify when he controversially squeezed into the world's top 50 after the BMW Championship last week.

Six-time major winner Nick Faldo, who has played in every US Open since 1988 and qualified in the USA last year, has decided not to try to make this year's event.

Meanwhile, former Open and Masters champion Sandy Lyle joined a host of late withdrawals.

Walton Heath, on the outskirts of London, was founded in 1903 and hosted the 1981 Ryder Cup.

The Old Course, which will play to an elongated 7,184 yards on Monday, is consistently rated in the world's top 100 golf courses, while the New Course (7,029) is among the UK's best 100.

"It was designed as an inland links and is at one of the highest points in Surrey which exposes it to the wind," Macpherson, the professional at Walton Heath for 28 years, told BBC Sport.

Brian Davis
BBC columnist Davis won the US Tour School in 2004

"It's exceptionally quick-draining with very fast running fairways and so always plays shorter than the scorecard suggests. The turf is close-cropped and the ball runs that much further than any other course I've been to in the country.

"There are some very deep bunkers with heather in the faces, and they are the biggest inland greens in the country with little trouble around them.

"But you must keep your drives out of the heather."

Twenty-four European Tour Members are already exempt for the US Open out of the 72 who have secured their spots.

Apart from Walton Heath, Ono Golf Club near Kobe in Japan was the only other venue to host international qualifying when three players booked their places last Monday.

US sectional qualifying for the remaining 84 spots will take place at 15 sites on 6-7 June.

The US Open takes place in North Carolina from 16-19 June.


Tee times for US Open qualifying, Walton Heath GC, 6 June:

Old Course/New Course
0730/1230 S Webster (Eng), M Campbell (NZ)
0739/1239 D Carter (Eng), JF Remesy (Fra)
0748/1248 G Murphy (Ire), N Dougherty (Eng)
0757/1257 B Davis (Eng), S Hansen (Den)
0806/1306 G Evans (Eng), Pa Lawrie (Scot)
0815/1315 TBC, T Price (Wal)
0829/1329 G Emerson (Eng), W Ormsby (Aus)
0838/1338 M Lafeber (Ned), P Hedblom (Swe)
0847/1347 TBC, TBC
0856/1356 M Fraser (Aus), T Moore (SA)
0905/1405 A Wall (Eng), P Sjoland (Swe)
0914/1414 A Marshall (Eng), S Kjeldsen (Den)
0928/1428 M Brier (Aut), P Fulke (Swe)
0937/1437 TBC, TBC
0946/1446 M Maritz (SA), P Fowler (Aus)
0955/1455 S Drummond (Sco), A Coltart (Sco)

New Course/Old Course0730/1230 TBC, TBC
0739/1239 J Lomas (Eng), C Hanell (Swe)
0748/1248 TBC, TBC
0757/1257 R Karlsson (Swe), P Hanson (Swe)
0806/1306 JF Lima (Por), R Jacquelin (Fra)
0815/1315 A Forsyth (Sco), P O'Malley (Aus)
0829/1329 S O'Hara (Sco), B Kennedy (Aus)
0838/1338 M Ilonen (Fin), S Dyson (Eng)
0847/1347 JM Lara (Spa), TBC
0856/1356 R Muntz (Ned), A Drohen (USA, am)
0905/1405 A Oldcorn (Sco), J Donaldson (Wal)
0914/1414 B Lane (Eng), J Sandelin (Swe)
0928/1428 M Kirk (SA), RJ Derksen (Ned)
0937/1437 B Rumford (Aus), S Wakefield (Eng)
0946/1446 N Fasth (Swe), M Siem (Ger)
0955/1455 C Cevaer (Fra), M Cayeux (Zim)
1004/1504 TBC



SEE ALSO
Goosen claims US Open glory
20 Jun 04 |  Golf


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