Pair celebrate surprise US open spots

Between them, European Tour rookies Robert Dinwiddie and Ross McGowan have made no fewer than 17 attempts to get into the Open and not succeeded once.

However, both will be at next week’s United States Open in California after coming through yesterday’s 36-hole qualifying tournament at Walton Heath in Surrey.

The pair finished in joint third place, a stroke behind winners Ross Fisher and Alastair Forsyth, on a day that also saw Phillip Archer, Thomas Levet and Johan Edfors earn themselves the chance to tackle Torrey Pines.

Dinwiddie was the most shocked. The 25-year-old from Durham had virtually given up hope with eight holes to play, but birdied six of them. The last was an eight-footer on the 18th that spared him a play-off.

“I’d started to have a bit of a laugh, but to make it into my first major like that is just fantastic,” said the man who two weeks ago shot a course-record 63 in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and who on Sunday was 10th in the Wales Open.

“The US Open is probably the toughest test there is, but I’ll try to gear my game up and try to hit the ball as well as I ever have.”

McGowan, lucky to find himself qualifying on a course where he used to be a member, added: “I’m just really excited. I’ve watched the US Open on television and it’s always looked too tough for me, but hopefully I’ll give it my best shot.”

Fisher, who shot 67-70 to tie Forsyth on seven under, revealed he knows Torrey Pines – but only from the Tiger Woods computer game.

“I shot something like 56!” said the Dutch Open champion, who last November had the chance to beat Phil Mickelson in Shanghai, but closed with a double-bogey seven and lost a play-off.

Forsyth’s one previous American major was the 2003 PGA at Oak Hill.

“That was set up like a US Open and I found it really, really hard (he shot 73-78), but I like to think I’m a far better player now,” he said.

The world rankings certainly show that. He is the only Scot in the top 100 as of yesterday when Colin Montgomerie’s continuing slide dropped him off that list for the first time since 1990.

Archer made his US Open debut two years ago after coming through a play-off at Walton against amateur Gary Wolstenholme, who last night lost out in the same fashion to Levet and Edfors.

The 48-year-old twice British champion, conqueror of Woods in the 1995 Walker Cup, knows he might never have a better chance with only 42 players competing for seven spots.

Rory McIlroy and Paul McGinley were among the others who also failed to make it through, but at 19 McIlroy knows there should be plenty more opportunities for him.

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