Colin Montgomerie failed Tuesday in his attempt to qualify for the British Open. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
A simple oversight may have kept Ireland’s David Higgins out of the British Open. Higgins earned a spot in a 3-for-2 playoff at Tuesday’s Local Final Qualifying, but was penalized two strokes on the first extra hole when he discovered 15 clubs in his bag.
According to IrishGolfDesk.com, Higgins put his clubs in the trunk of his car after shooting 70-67 on Tuesday in North Berwick, Scotland. Higgins, a 40-year-old European Tour player, placed a fairway wood that was in the car in his bag, and forgot to remove the club before the playoff for two spots in the British Open. Gareth Wright made a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole, and George Murray made par to earn a place at Muirfield later this month.
"I do feel bad about what happened to David," Murray said, "but he was honest and came straight out with it when he realized his mistake."
It’s not the first time a player has paid a steep price for having an extra club at the British Open. Ian Woosnam was tied for the lead through three rounds at the 2001 British Open, and birdied the first hole Sunday before an extra club was discovered in his bag on the second tee. He was penalized two strokes and eventually finished four shots behind winner David Duval.
Local Final Qualifying was conducted Tuesday at four sites, with three players from each site earning spots in the British Open. Colin Montgomerie, 50, may have been the biggest name to play Tuesday. He was leading at 5 under after 12 holes, but ended up with a 2-under 69 in the first round. He shot a second-round 76 to miss by four strokes.
“I threw it away,” said Montgomerie, who finished ninth last week in his Champions Tour debut at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. “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.”
Montgomerie was two off the lead after a second-round 64 at Muirfield in 2002, but followed with an 84 on the same day that Tiger Woods’ hopes of winning the season's first three majorsended with an 81.
Four amateurs were among the dozen qualifiers, including three with ties to U.S. colleges: University of San Diego’s Grant Forrest, Kentucky’s Ben Stow and incoming Northwestern freshman Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Tuesday’s qualifiers are listed below:
1. Grant Forrest (a), 67-65
T2. Shiv Kapur, 69-64
T2. John Wade, 70-63
1. Ben Stow (a), 72-68
T2. Oscar Floren, 72-69
T2. Matthew Fitzpatrick (a), 69-72
North Berwick, Scotland
1. Jimmy Mullen (a), 68-68
T2. Gareth Wright, 69-68
T2. George Murray, 73-64
The Musselburgh, Scotland
1. Steven Tiley, 64-69
T2. Lloyd Saltman, 68-68
T2. Tyrrell Hatton, 69-67
(a) - amateur