Paul McGinley has received a late call-up into tomorrow’s Open Championship qualifier at his home course Sunningdale – thanks to fellow Dubliner Peter Lawrie.
McGinley’s world ranking of 551st at the close of entries had failed to earn him a place in a 96-strong field chasing 10 spots at Sandwich next month.
But former world number one Vijay Singh withdrew after making the halfway cut at the Memorial tournament in Ohio and Lawrie then pulled out after his wife Philippa gave birth to their fourth child – and first son – on Friday night.
Liverpool’s Nick Dougherty, who has missed his last 13 European Tour cuts going back to last November, is now first reserve for the 36-hole event.
The biggest name taking part is last year’s Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, desperate to make it 22 Open appearances in a row.
But nobody has more reason for wanting to play at Royal St George’s than Thomas Bjorn.
The Open returns there for the first time since 2003 when the Dane stood on the 15th tee three strokes clear of the field and with a first major title in his sights.
In a collapse for which he will always be remembered, however, Bjorn followed a bogey with a double bogey – he was in a greenside bunker and needed three attempts to get out – and then another bogey at the 17th.
A par on the last left American Ben Curtis, playing the first major of his life, as the surprise winner and Bjorn in shock.
The 40-year-old has not had a top-40 finish in the event since and said: “I played some of the best golf of my life that week, but I just didn’t finish it off.
“That’s what happens in golf. But I don’t dwell on it at all.
“I knew that the next time The Open was at St George’s it was going to come up, but what can you do about it?
“I’m grateful that I’ve been able to put myself in those positions and know what it’s like – most guys never get in that position.”
Following Singh’s withdrawal, reigning Qatar Masters champion Bjorn is the highest-ranked player in the field.