Edberg thankful for British Open qualification

Swedish golfer Pelle Edberg had almost as much to celebrate as Colin Montgomerie at the K Club.

Swedish golfer Pelle Edberg had almost as much to celebrate as Colin Montgomerie at the K Club.

Until the European Open, Edberg had never finished higher than ninth in any European Tour event, was 460th in the world and had just failed to qualify for the British Open Championship.

But a brilliant joint third place yesterday has not only earned him £114,000 (€168,500) and thus spared him a 10th visit to the qualifying school at the end of the season, but also won him a first major appearance at Carnoustie next week – just.

Edberg’s closing 66 gave him the British Open spot on offer at the K Club ahead of France’s Gregory Havret even though they finished on the same score. Havret’s last round was 68.

“It’s a huge boost for me to get to play with the best players in the world”, said the 28-year-old Arsenal fan, whose headbands set him apart from the crowd.

“I thought my (British) Open chance might have gone last Monday. I had to get to Sunningdale after the French Open, but my 10pm flight had a two-and-a-half hour delay and I didn’t get to my hotel until 1.30am.

“Not surprisingly, I played rubbish and to get in from here is just brilliant.”

Havret’s 30-foot birdie attempt on the final hole would have put him into the Open if he had made it, but he failed – as did compatriot Thomas Levet with a chip from just over the green.

If Levet, runner-up to Ernie Els at Muirfield in 2002, had holed he would have finished level with Edberg, would also have had closed with a 66 and would have taken the Open place because his third round was 68 compared to the Swede’s 73.

Levet will now try again at the 36-hole final qualifying event at Panmure near Carnoustie.

But because he could not get a flight to Edinburgh the Frenchman caught one to Glasgow instead last night and was then driving across Scotland.

A total of 384 players are playing at four courses for 12 (British) Open spots.

The odds were not as good as Levet could have had at Sunningdale in the international qualifier last Monday, but the difference is that he is mostly up against club professionals and amateurs this way.

Also at Panmure will be German Marcel Siem, who last December won the World Cup for Germany with Bernhard Langer, Welsh amateur Rhys Davies, who last month qualified in America for the US Open, and Zane Scotland, who played in the British Open at Carnoustie in 1999 when he was a mere 16 and who last weekend had a chance to ignite his career before slipping to 12th in the French Open.

The other three qualifying courses are Downfield, Monifieth and Montrose.

Downfield sees James Conteh, son of former boxing world champion John, try to make it all the way through from the regional event to the British Open proper and also competing there will be former PGA champion Andrew Oldcorn and fellow Scot Lloyd Saltman, who two years ago at St Andrews was a brilliant 15th in finishing as leading amateur.

Two former Ryder Cup players are at Monifieth – Swede Per-Ulrik Johansson and Steve Richardson, runner-up to Seve Ballesteros on the European Order of Merit in 1991 – as well as Scot Raymond Russell, who finished joint fourth (with Justin Rose) in the 1998 British Open at Birkdale, and Yorkshire’s Iain Pyman, who shares with Tiger Woods the record for the lowest total by an amateur in Open history.

At Montrose the field includes European Tour winners Philip Golding, Diego Borrego and Joakim Haeggman, who in 1993 became the first Swede to play in the Ryder Cup.

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