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Ford qualifies for The Open
Ford qualifies for The Open

In sunny, but windy conditions on the Kent coast, Matthew Ford qualified for The Open to make his major championship debut after he led the qualifiers at Prince’s on a five-under-par total of 139.

The Bearsted golfer started off with a steady round of 71 before experiencing a rollercoaster second round in which he mixed two eagles and three birdies with a double bogey and two bogeys.

Nevertheless, a four-under-par 68 led to Ford finishing two shots clear at the top of the leaderboard ahead of compatriot Jamie Rutherford and Irishman Ronan Mullarney, a former R&A Foundation Scholar, who tied for second on three-under-par. Both players matched each other with rounds of 70 and 71.

Having qualified, Ford spoke of his delight at making the 150th staging of The Open:

“I eagled 8 to get five-under early in the second round and then I hit a couple of poor drives which ended up costing me four shots, so five-under to one-under middle of the round. To finish as I did, I’m obviously very happy and to make eagle and a couple of birdies as I did coming home was great. I showed some good mental strength and golf in the end.
“I’m obviously delighted as I’ve never played in The Open before. It’s going to be a massive thrill to play in front of that crowd. I’ll need to find some accommodation now! The family will come up and I’m so excited. I’m looking forward to a great week.”

A play-off decided the final qualifying place as Matthew Southgate’s birdie putt from five feet slipped agonisingly past the hole on the last to leave five players level on two-under-par. Jack Floydd went on to prevail among the group of hopefuls in sudden death with a birdie at the first play-off hole.