Weston Park’s Danny Chapman dreaming of qualifying for Open Championship
Weston Park professional Danny Chapman admits it will be a 'dream come true' if he makes it through local final qualifying on Tuesday for the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Chapman, 26, was the only Norfolk golfer to make it through regional qualifying on Monday when he shot a level par 71 around Hankley Common, Surrey, which was just one of 14 qualifying venues around the UK.
Chapman must now finish in the top three after 36 holes at Hillside Golf Club, Southport, one of four local final qualifying courses, in order to qualify for the Championship, which starts on July 19.
'I played really well (in regional qualifying) and I drove it superbly,' said Chapman. 'The course was set up really tough and just 10 yards off the fairway was really deep rough. It was a really challenging course as you'd expect. Speaking to some of the members they said that level par always gets in and that's what I shot.
'I had two bogeys and two birdies, I missed only two of the 14 fairways and they were in the semi-rough so I wasn't in any trouble off the tee and I missed only two greens.
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'I bogeyed the par four third hole as I hit it long over the green. I chipped up and missed my putt for par. The other bogey was a three putt at the 15th which knocked me back a bit because I was one under at the time and playing nicely and chucked in a three putt and put the brakes on a bit and then missed the green on the next hole, which was a par three, and got up and down so the nerves were jangling a bit.
'The birdies came on the 11th, a 220-yard par three into the wind and I hit three wood to about 15 feet and holed it. The other birdie was on a par four on the 14th. I hit driver and a wedge to within 10 feet and holed it.'
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It's the fourth time Chapman has tried to qualify for the Open and the second time he's made it through to final qualifying, so he knows what to expect and what it takes to make the cut.
'I think it (the experience) is going to help a lot this next week. When I get there I know what to expect,' he said. 'You get there and the Claret Jug is there on the first tee, it's a bit nerve-racking. I've been working on my game a lot with Michael (Few) here at Weston Park, working on my rhythm. I love links golf, the harder the better.
'All my good scores that i have had are on links courses. I do like links golf because you have to move the ball in the air, hit it high, hit it low. just strike it really well.
'It would be a dream come true (to qualify). You can't explain it until you do it. I just think that everyone wants to do it and to play in a Major would be an incredible life experience.
'There is no reason why I can't do it,' he added. 'I've just got to get my head down and grind out a score.'
European Tour professional Andrew Marshall will also be flying the flag for Norfolk at local final qualifying when he tees it up at St Annes Old Links.
There were a host of other Norfolk players who tried but failed to make it through regional qualifying. Gorleston's Alexander Holmes is 76th reserve after his round of 74 at Abridge Golf Club, Essex, while King's Lynn's Luke Johnson shot 80 at the same course. Barnham Broom's Alex Beckett was the only local golfer to tee it up at the Buckinghamshire where he carded a 79.
Eaton pro Mark Allen and amateur Matthew Bacon, from Costessey Park, joined Chapman at Hankley Common where they both shot rounds of 82.
Oliver Barnes (79) and Stephen Chick (85) both from Dunston Hall and Mundesley's pro Ryan Pudney (83) all missed out at Lindrick.
Meanwhile, Royal Norwich amateur Tom Clements (79) was joined by former West Ham footballers Lee Bowyer and Gary O'Neil at The London Golf Club.